17512 Columbia

For cops, Facebook can be friend or foe

In Everyday Living, Uncategorized on July 29, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Hours after a 15-year-old boy was shot, robbed of his sneakers and left to die on a Reading street, investigators searched Facebook for clues.

They found an incriminating message posted on the Facebook page of one of the young men thought to be involved in the Sept. 12 slaying of Willy Tineo-Ferreira on Green Street, according to Berks County District Attorney John T. Adams.

The message was one piece of evidence that police used to identify four suspects who were arrested the next day.

“We have used Facebook in a number of different ways to investigate crimes because young people, especially kids, will put things on their Facebook page that are incriminating,” Adams said.

Law-enforcement sources say they are increasingly using Facebook as an investigative tool. But they also see it as a double-edged sword that can be used against officers who are careless in their personal postings.

Last week, Berks detectives in the DA’s forensic services unit used social media to find an 18-year-old woman whose parents reported her missing, Adams said.

The woman’s parents were concerned because their daughter, who is developmentally disabled and easily persuaded, had been communicating with men through her MySpace account.

Detectives searched the woman’s computer and found the address of a Downingtown, Chester County, man with whom she had been communicating. They found the woman unharmed at the residence, where she had gone willingly.

While Facebook and other social media can be law-enforcement assets, they also can be liabilities. To read the rest of this article from the Reading Eagle Times, click here.

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