Nowadays, social networking sites have made us so well-connected that we often have to be reminded of the importance of privacy and security when we share our personal information. This is certainly true: everyone needs to take proper precautions in their endeavors on the World Wide Web. That being said, we often fail to acknowledge the contributions of such networking sites to current crime prevention efforts.
Law enforcement professionals have recently capitalized on the unique crime-fighting opportunities that websites, such as Facebook, offer them. This recent national trend has been termed Law Enforcement 2.0. For instance, when police officers posted a surveillance video of previously unidentified persons engaging in vandalism at a hotel in Maine, responses from local Facebook members poured in, and led to an arrest in the case. Similarly, there was the case this past February, in which two men in Indiana torched a couch during their Superbowl celebration. They posted a picture to their Facebook profiles and the police were quickly informed of the online photograph. Police officers quickly apprehended the unsuspecting offenders based on the tip.
Facebook has also become a valuable tool in locating missing children. After one-year-old Madeline McCann went missing in 2007, her parents endorsed the introduction of the application Missing People. This Web tool serves as a forum for sharing information about missing people. Madeleine now has her own page on the site, where users can communicate directly with her parents and investigators about potential leads in her case. Users can also offer support to her loved ones. Additionally, the McCanns recently collaborated with Google and YouTube to launch dontyouforgetaboutme. The YouTube channel is, specifically, aimed at locating abducted children. The Websites have been important tools for victims' families, as well as the law enforcement community, in their enduring searches for missing people.
As long as we continue to practice Internet safety, Web networks like Facebook will continue to be important tools for law enforcement personnel in fighting crime. So hats off to you, Facebook users and YouTube junkies, for helping us “Take A Bite Out Of Crime®.”