Facebook: Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide

I’ve written before about the, often ludicrous, ways in which criminals have advertised their crimes on social media and ended up being apprehended as a result.

This week, three rather more serious stories which demonstrate how difficult Facebook makes it to stay anonymous in the 21st Century.

First, a story from the US on the new difficulties facing undercover law enforcement personnel.

Woman arrested for posting Facebook photos of undercover cop

A Texas woman was arrested earlier in the month for revealing the identity of an undercover police officer who had testified against her friend in court in a drug case.

The friend had found a photo of the officer on Facebook while researching him online.

He and his brother then used the photos to make fliers which they intended to post all over town.

The woman herself posted the photo on Facebook and identified its subject as an undercover policeman.

Full details here.


Next to Australia with a similar story.

Facebook refuse to take down undercover cop page

Criminals in the Australian state of Victoria have apparently got sufficiently organised to crowdsource information about local unidentified police cars which they have posted to a Facebook page.

The page has more than 12,500 followers and as of 21st October 2012, Facebook were refusing to remove the page stating, rather disingenuously, that it couldn’t stop people taking photos in a public place.

True, but they could decide not to host the page with those photos on it.

Again, for full details, click here.

Internet PrivacyCreative Commons License o5com via Compfight

Finally, we return to the UK for a story of how a private individual used Facebook to investigate a serious crime that had not been reported to police.

Husband tracks down wife’s rapist via Facebook

A number of  newspapers carried reports two weeks ago about a trial taking place at Maidstone Crown Court.

They concerned a husband whose wife confided in him that she had been raped by an old boyfriend ten years earlier.

The husband took to Facebook and started talking to old friends to track down the alleged rapist.

He claimed to be organising a surprise party for his wife and managed to get in touch with his wife’s attacker and find out his address.

The husband confronted the man and assaulted him.

The wife then reported her rape to the police


It seems that it’s equally risk for law enforcement officers and criminals to have a Facebook presence unless they are very careful with their privacy settings.

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