The internet has become a way of sharing things these days. From photos to locations and from status updates to blogs – we seem to add everything we do to out social networking accounts. From the leader of these sites, Facebook, which expanded exponentially after starting in 2004, to Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn, everyone on the internet is using these websites to put their opinion forward. It seems as if we have been stuck in a trap and can’t come out of it – the trap of trying to socialize online. From these stats, the numbers sound astonishing:
- Twitter: More than 500 million tweets per day
- Instagram: 300 million users using the service monthly
- Facebook: 936 million users active daily
Whenever we post something on the web, we think that it is just our friends and acquaintances who are looking at the posts. However, everyone in the world can do that. Social media investigations are becoming common due to this. With a free access to someone’s personal information, we can obtain access to useful information for investigating and combating fraud. Social networks are a great way to access information – without even taking the help of anyone. While most of us are ignorant about our privacy, some people have found it the hard way. Data present in your Facebook profile – or any other social media site, can be accessed even if you have set the privacy settings. Even though you think that keeping a thing “private” makes it accessible to you, or that it’s safe, there are ways to access it. There have been cases when, claims raised by people have been denied by the court. For instance, there was a Plaintiff, claiming for an injury by slipping and falling. The counsel forced the production of pictures which showed the Plaintiff performing activities which questioned the extent of the injury. On objection by the Plaintiff, as her settings were private and that the access to the private photos was a violation of privacy. The court didn’t agree to this and overruled the objection, stating that anything posted on the social media is not private. The data posted on any social network is neither protected nor privileged. It can be seen that frauds can be easily caught using such investigations. The internet is a place through which your location, activities and everything else you do – can be easily identified. This, is beneficial to find, secure and verify the facts shared on the internet. Although it is difficult to say if a line is being crossed or not, in terms of investigating fraudulent claims, social media has been great in finding crimes and for other investigations. With regards to the law-enforcement officials, the use of these social sites for investigations has been increasing drastically. The infographic below shows the use of social media for investigations in 2014. source : http://www.lexisnexis.com/risk/downloads/infographic/2014-social-media-use-in-law-enforcement-infographic.pdf It can be seen that social media is becoming a common method for investigations. One quarter of the officials use social networking sites for investigating everyday. Around half the officials have been trained for using them for investigations. As the use of social media keeps on increasing, investigations have become much easier with it’s use. However, using such practices to investigate are still questionable. The privacy of a person – to what extent it is being crossed by using the internet isn’t really defined. With so many possibilities of accessing data by your social profiles, it is important to try to monitor what you want to put on the websites. That way, you’d be more in control and not fall victim to these investigations.