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Fighting Crime With Facebook

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the playing-policeville dept.

Crime 71

Hugh Pickens writes writes "Demond Fernandez writes that Facebook has become a hot, new crime fighting tool for police in Conroe, Texas. Sergeant Joe Smart says Conroe police have been using its Facebook page to profile suspects and criminals since May — like a woman accused of stealing credit cards, masked gunmen caught on tape burglarizing a local store and a suspected computer thief, who the department's Facebook friends just helped police catch. 'It works. The witnesses are looking at it and they are giving us information,' says Smart. Police say Facebook friends in Conroe already helped them catch two wanted suspects and gather leads on several other open cases. Apparently the idea of using facebook to catch criminals is getting picked up in other places as the Toronto Police Service announced their goal is to have about 175 officers with online profiles by early November. 'We've prevented some pretty serious incidents simply because people reached out to the few police officers that were using social media,' says Constable Scott Mills, the force's social media officer. 'This is going to lead to a lot more trust and a lot more transparency.'"

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Facebook Niggers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36902304)

Niggers: responsible for crime, broken pidgin english, poverty, drug abuse, spousal abuse, and abandoned bastard children raised by big fat single mothers EVERYWHERE. Just keep blamin all their problems on white racism. Yeah a white racist can make a black father abandon the black mother of his black kids, sure, whites always get a veto on those decisions you stupid idiot brainwashed politically correct fucks.

Re:Facebook Niggers (0)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36902604)

It should be legal to brain racists with a fungo bat.

Re:Facebook Niggers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36902688)

It should be legal to brain racists with a fungo bat.

prior to assaulting anyone with a potentially lethal weapon, please explain how anything white people say or think can possibly make so many black men choose to abandon their black children. the rate of black children raised without a father figure is now about 80%. even if every whitey hates them to pieces wouldnt that just be more reason to take care of their own?

Re:Facebook Niggers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36903012)

Didn't you hear, every problem that black people have is the fault of a white person. There is no personal responsibility.

Re:Facebook Niggers (1)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 3 years ago | (#36903552)

I would point you in the direction of learning about the sociological legacy of 100 years of slavery and then 100 years of discrimination (first legal and overt, and then "illegal" and covert), but I doubt you'd care to educate yourself. Is any particular white person responsible for any particular black person's bad personal choices? No, of course not, but you're just ignorant if you think a group of people can just shrug off 200 years of that kind of negative social pressures and become the equals of their former masters in a relatively short span of time. We'll still be dealing with these problems for another 200 years. The effects of slavery that was practiced thousands of years ago have left imprints that still exist today in populations, with negative socioeconomic consequences for them.

The real question isn't why things are this way but what can we do about it? What is the appropriate response to the facts and our history? And yes, "do nothing" is a valid answer but every path will have consequences. Ignoring the problem won't make it any better, it'll just kick the can down the road for another generation to deal with.

Re:Facebook Niggers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36904664)

ok but you speak as if blacks are the only group ever oppressed through periods of history. the native americans, the jews, and others have also known long periods of discrimination and second-class status. they don't commit the level of crimes of blacks or abandon their children like blacks do. how do you explain that?

if everyone is inherently equal then with similar treatment you would expect similar results. logically. however you do not get similar results.

at some point this is a faith-based religious discussion. the answer is determined in advance before the data is evaluated. the answer of course is everyone is equal and you are a very bad person if you question this. any reason to doubt this could only be the product of those evil heretics who ask uncomfortable questions. they're the racists, the infidels, whatever you wanna call them because they don't automatically accept the orthodoxy. naturally even asking questions is enough to get you branded "racist" because how dare you suggest the orthodoxy was made by men and therefore may be subject to human idiosyncracies.

really what is the fear? is the fear that if blacks actually are less advanced than whites, then what, that makes it okay to mistreat them? no it doesn't. do you go around torturing and killing cats and dogs because they are less advanced than you? no? then level of advancement has nothing to do with it.

Re:Facebook Niggers (2)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 3 years ago | (#36903606)

It should be legal to brain racists with a fungo bat.

Why should it be legal to hit Al Sharpton with a bat?

Contacting people (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36902312)

Looks like "walking the beat" and being in contact with people matters. Who would have thought?

Re:Contacting people (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 3 years ago | (#36903226)

All I know is I had the batman theme tune going through my head while reading the summary.

Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-batmaaaaan!

Re:Contacting people (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36903492)

You left out a "na".

Re:Contacting people (1)

Devoidoid (1207090) | more than 3 years ago | (#36907668)

Holy scansion!

Re:Contacting people (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 3 years ago | (#36904364)

One would imagine this is in many ways more helpful than walking the beat in certain communities--someone who works in another community may get more familiarity with police where he lives this way, for example. Similarly, people who don't get in trouble with (and therefore know) the police will get to know them better, if it is done well.

The problem, of course, is that over-regulation of it will take away some of the openness of it, but it still could be a good thing.

Towns could also use social networking for feedback on town planning, etc...

Re:Contacting people (1)

Benaiah (851593) | more than 3 years ago | (#36905330)

So far the police (in Western Australia) only use social media as a one way propaganda soap box where they spew the latest releases from the media department.
There is no SMS number to report an accident, a speeding driver, something easier then going into the police station and filling out a bunch of forms just to say this guy threw a cigarette butt out of their window.

I think using social media is at least a step in the right direction allowing a conversation to take place between the people and the state.
Would love if more "have your say forums" were brought on-line rather then targeted focus groups during work hours.

Re:Contacting people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36906640)

well you also have biker gangs in australia that have the police sooo paid off that they don't get messed with so justice in Australia is not blind by any means. Its bought and paid for. but oh well this will get modded down cause nobody cares.....

I wonder.... (1)

DeeEff (2370332) | more than 3 years ago | (#36902348)

With all the idiots they're chasing after on facebook, how many of the criminals who don't use facebook will go un-caught? Seems like an invasion of personal privacy and waste of tax dollars, IMHO.

They should stop trying to filter every little online program and just do the actual work. I'm sure that a majority of these "criminals" are just underage kids drinking or smoking pot and then uploading pictures to facebook, and there's no point in trying to go after them, kids are stupid, and they'll likely do what they want anyways.

Re:I wonder.... (5, Informative)

m2vq (2417438) | more than 3 years ago | (#36902414)

They aren't filtering anything or violating personal privacy. They're posting information and pictures on their page so that people can visit it (or see updates on their facebook status updates) and leave information if they know something about it. This all has been possible and done before, but now they're just using tools that are more accessible and relevant in the current generation. It's refreshing and good to see, actually.

Re:I wonder.... (4, Insightful)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 3 years ago | (#36902848)

They aren't filtering anything or violating personal privacy. They're posting information and pictures on their page so that people can visit it (or see updates on their facebook status updates) and leave information if they know something about it. This all has been possible and done before, but now they're just using tools that are more accessible and relevant in the current generation. It's refreshing and good to see, actually.

So Facebook is a success.

The CIA tried creating a database of people but found the manpower far to expensive to be feasible. The only way was to crowd source the work. If they could trick 'idiots' into updating their own profile, law enforcement wouldn't have to work as hard to find information, and it would be virtually free. Welcome to Facebook, any governments wet dream.

Re:I wonder.... (3)

m2vq (2417438) | more than 3 years ago | (#36902966)

What part of the summary, article or my post did you not understand? This is similar to newspapers posting information about crimes and maybe some relevant pictures and asking public for tips. It has nothing to do with datamining or violating your privacy on Facebook. FB is just the medium used to post that information and ask tips from public because like it or not, it's used by hundreds of millions of people and reaches people better than newspapers.

Re:I wonder.... (2)

lgarner (694957) | more than 3 years ago | (#36903472)

Exactly. It's a "wanted" poster in the post office. Only now, you don't have to go to the post office to see it.

You can be that no one would care if they posted this stuff on the city's web site, but because it's the city's FACEBOOK page it's suddenly an issue.

This has nothing to do with stupid kids or criminals posting on FB, it has nothing to do with whether FB is a success, and it's not an invasion of privacy.

Re:I wonder.... (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#36921386)

This has nothing to do with stupid kids or criminals posting on FB, it has nothing to do with whether FB is a success, and it's not an invasion of privacy.

So what's it doing on slashdot? "Technology helps government officials in a small way to do some good" is not really your libertarian slashtard's dream headline.

Re:I wonder.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36903522)

how many of the criminals who don't use facebook will go un-caught?
Yes, the entire police department is ONLY waiting on tips from its Facebook page now. You win the internets. All criminals not posted on their Facebook page will never be caught. 911 has been shut down in favor of Twitter, too.

Where's that whoosh coming from?

No surprise (1)

jaymzter (452402) | more than 3 years ago | (#36902380)

This is small town Texas. Everyone is in everyone else's business in these type of places. As a result, this technique probably doesn't scale well to larger locales.

Re:No surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36902408)

Conroe isn't that small.

Re:No surprise (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#36902434)

53,000 people isn't "small town", even though I've lived in bigger suburbs that's big enough where everyone *doesn't* know everyone else

Re:No surprise (1)

Isaac-1 (233099) | more than 3 years ago | (#36903464)

It is also one of the nicer suburbs on the north side of Houston, 10 or 15 years ago it was its own somewhat isolated city, now it is just the northern frontier of the greater Houston area, one continuous expanse of shopping malls, car dealerships and casual dining establishments along I-45 from Conroe to the Galveston 90 miles south.

Re:No surprise (1)

calc (1463) | more than 3 years ago | (#36903942)

Conroe is the county seat of Montgomery county which has nearly 500,000 people. So while there may only be 56,207 people in Conroe itself, apparently wikipedia hasn't been updated, its in a much larger county, a fair chunk of Conroe's ETJ was ceded so that The Woodlands can form a city in a few years. Oh and they also managed to get an Intel processor named after the town.

And I live there. :-)

Re:No surprise (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#36921422)

And I live there. :-)

I think that was fairly obvious.

Re:No surprise (1)

crispylinetta (1639533) | more than 3 years ago | (#36907824)

Not true. The Boston police have a Twitter page [twitter.com] that allows them to post updates and respond to citizens' questions, and it has scaled beautifully.

Next up (5, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 3 years ago | (#36902416)

* Officer McDuff has beat the crap out of Neighbor Joe and arrested him on fake drug charges. LAPD, NSA, and 3 others like this. * Neighbor Joe and Officer McDuff are no longer friends. * Attorney Smith and Neighbor Joe are now friends.

Re:Next up (5, Funny)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | more than 3 years ago | (#36902458)

Facebook - McGruff's best friend. Only you can take a like out of crime.

Re:Next up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36902472)

Arf arf arf!

Re:Next up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36902910)

McGruff was awesome! I wonder what ever happened to him.. I always wanted to have my way with him but never got the chance.

Re:Next up (2)

ATMosby (746034) | more than 3 years ago | (#36903506)

McGruff was replaced with a cheaper actor. The original McGruff works for a call center for a large HMO these days.

Meanwhile in Holland (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36902438)

There exists a dedicated Twitter account indexing most, if not almost all, people threatening other to death. Police doesn't do a thing with it. The makers even mapped the offenders out on Google Maps.
http://twitter.com/doodsbedreiging and http://www.doodsbedreiging.nl/hierzittenze

Re:Meanwhile in Holland (2)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 3 years ago | (#36902556)

There exists a dedicated Twitter account indexing most, if not almost all, people threatening other to death. Police doesn't do a thing with it.

Well, maybe if they made the damn thing in English, Texas cops could do something with it.

Re:Meanwhile in Holland (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36908124)

LOL. You dutch people are funny. And your funny language that's kinda like german, but not quite.

I did literally LOL when I saw this:
Doodsbedreiging

I mean, WTF is that? I read it as Dudes, Bed Ridden. LOL!

Good for deadbeats, too. (2)

triclipse (702209) | more than 3 years ago | (#36902510)

I do a fair amount of debt collection. Facebook is one my best sources for finding my deadbeats for service of process and wage garnishments.

Re:Good for deadbeats, too. (1)

pookemon (909195) | more than 3 years ago | (#36902620)

Mmmmmm Garnishment...

Happened in Vancouver as well... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36902520)

After the riots we had following the Stanley cup playoffs, many of the vandals pictures were posted on facebook. This soon spawned a site entirely devoted to catching people based on pictures and videos from the night.
The interwebs can be a power tool indeed...

Low hanging fruit (2)

presspass (1770650) | more than 3 years ago | (#36902530)

Eat donuts and solve crimes! Bonus!!

Boring. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36902580)

I'd be much more interested in "fighting Facebook with crime."

Re:Boring. (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#36902694)

I'd be much more interested in "fighting Facebook with crime."

Most insightful comment on Slashdot, July 27, 2011.

Re:Boring. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36902764)

I'd be more interested in sucking off a shemale.

fighting crime? (1)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 3 years ago | (#36902636)

From most news stories, I gathered Facebook, when involved with crime, was facilitating more the supply side

Re:fighting crime? (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 3 years ago | (#36903586)

You're thinking more about the Zynga side of things. Though the zuck has his thumb in that pie as well.

hope in indonesia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36902748)

wow... i hope police indonesian police chief read this article..

http://vivateknologi.com
http://newsvoip.com

Vancouver Riot (4, Informative)

Mia'cova (691309) | more than 3 years ago | (#36902780)

The recent riot in Vancouver is an excellent example of this. The police probably caught a good hundred people directly thanks to social media. Maybe they would have found most of those people by other means.. but they basically had the worst offenders all identified within hours thanks to social media.

Re:Vancouver Riot (2)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 3 years ago | (#36902884)

The recent riot in Vancouver is an excellent example of this. The police probably caught a good hundred people directly thanks to social media. Maybe they would have found most of those people by other means.. but they basically had the worst offenders all identified within hours thanks to social media.

Watch out for a future crime spree from Casey Anthony...
http://gawker.com/5824690/the-casey-anthony-latex-mask [gawker.com]

Re:Vancouver Riot (0)

Nyder (754090) | more than 3 years ago | (#36903032)

The recent riot in Vancouver is an excellent example of this. The police probably caught a good hundred people directly thanks to social media. Maybe they would have found most of those people by other means.. but they basically had the worst offenders all identified within hours thanks to social media.

You say that like rioting is a bad thing.

Re:Vancouver Riot (3, Insightful)

Mad Merlin (837387) | more than 3 years ago | (#36903488)

In this case, yes, it absolutely was. The riots were caused because a sports team lost a game.

If you want to riot, riot over something that matters.

Re:Vancouver Riot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36904982)

It saddens me that for those involved, this probably matters more than any political or social issue.

Re:Vancouver Riot (1)

Mia'cova (691309) | more than 3 years ago | (#36928810)

To be fair, even the politicians took time off to watch the game that day :)

Also, canadian politics tend to be a lot more sane than american politics. If canada had budget issues like what's happening in the US right now, it would result in a vote of no-confidence. A new election would be called immediately. Maybe the new government wouldn't be able to solve the issue either and we'd go again to the polls.. but the point is, the system actually has a way of dealing with these stalemates rather than waiting years for the term to run out. What we lose in government stability we gain in protection from idiocy.

Re:Vancouver Riot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36905138)

Also, it wasn't any kind of spontaneous riot. People came with baseball bats from the suburbs pre-determined to stir up a riot regardless of the outcome. Furthermore, the police have a very different reputation in Canada - there is generally (not always) more respect & trust between police officers & the public.

Re:Vancouver Riot (1)

Nyder (754090) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936792)

In this case, yes, it absolutely was. The riots were caused because a sports team lost a game.

If you want to riot, riot over something that matters.

Well, the sport team losing was the straw the broke the camels back, but what got these people so riled up in their life that they felt it was okay to riot and destroy stuff?

Re:Vancouver Riot (1)

Raenex (947668) | more than 3 years ago | (#36909420)

You say that like rioting is a bad thing.

A riot is almost never a good thing. The people punished usually have nothing to do with whatever it is people are rioting about, if in fact they are even rioting for some worthwhile cause.

How do you fight the crime if .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36902796)

Facebook itself is the perpetrator?

Re:How do you fight the crime if .... (2)

brim4brim (2343300) | more than 3 years ago | (#36903134)

Use Google+

In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36902800)

Committing crimes with Facebook. Criminal has been using the extra information from facebook to commit a large variety of crimes including identity thief, social hacking, and possible other crimes. So?

Don't tell me that the news here is that they are ONLY using facebook to identify social links between criminals? Or is it that they only started profiling criminals just recently?

million dollar idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36903158)

BTW, here's a multi-million dollar idea: SMI - Social Media Investigators, the weekly drama. Think about it, international appeal (everyone everywhere is on facebook), goofy drama like any other whodunit show. Add a young, hot couple with underlying sexual tension, and a cranky old boss, and a weekly murder mystery. Tadaa!

Re:million dollar idea (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36903474)

If they started killing face book users, I'd watch.

its a two way street. (1)

nimbius (983462) | more than 3 years ago | (#36903314)

and this story i think is candycoating it a little much. facebook will gladly hand over your personal information, contacts, and media to law enforcement
without a formal warrant. cops dont "need" to post anything; you've done the work for them.

Head of Vice for Manukau is a serial killer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36903516)

Does not do anything for the NZ Police. They have been told that their Head of Vice for Manukau Counties NZ Police District is a terrorist from Malaysian Government point of view, is known as a serial killer in Manukau Counties and yet the NZ Police does nothing but create smoke screen after smoke screen.

So can citizens do the same? (1)

solosaint (699000) | more than 3 years ago | (#36904100)

Can we post pictures of police officers who have wronged us? This should get interesting..

What happens when they get it wrong? (2)

Required Snark (1702878) | more than 3 years ago | (#36904458)

The police make mistakes. Often. So if they put your name up, and it turns out that you are not guilty, or even the right person, what happens next?

A guy named Ramirez was falsely arrested in LA for the horrible beating of a Giants fan. The police were feeling the heat, so they went after Ramirez. The case almost immediately fell apart, but they kept saying it was the man in custody until they arrested the other two suspects.

In this case Ramirez is still in jail for a probation violation, which he is contesting. If you search for his name you will find all the details of the false arrest.

Now suppose that it's you, and you haven't done anything and don't have a criminal record. How do you fix that? Remember the Internet never forgets. Even if they take down the web page it will still hit on your name. Will they post a retraction? Maybe if you sue them. Outside of a trial it is very rare for someone to be declared "not guilty" in a legal sense.

They have no incentive to put up a retraction. It makes them look bad, so they will resist any responsibility. They would rather see an innocent person in jail then admit an error, so if you are just accused how much leverage do you think that you will have?

Just kiss your online presence goodbye. You will never get the interview with an online application process. That means you can't get hired at a national grocery store, for example, much less a tech job. You could be denied credit and not be told why. All these things can be overcome to some extent, but it could haunt you for the rest of your life.

Does it sound like such a good idea now? If you think you are immune your are being foolish. There is a lot of power here to hurt innocent people, and very little a victim can do to clear their name.

Conroe, TX Transparent? (1)

WyzrdX (1390963) | more than 3 years ago | (#36904672)

'We've prevented some pretty serious incidents simply because people reached out to the few police officers that were using social media,' says Constable Scott Mills, the force's social media officer. 'This is going to lead to a lot more trust and a lot more transparency.'

I lived on the north side of Houston until April of this year. Conroe was 18 minutes from my house. I even lived in Conroe for 3 years. In Conroe or all of Montgomery County there is no such thing as Transparency. They are, have always been, and always will be a closed force who has been investigated by the DoJ several times for their unprofessional ways. Facebook is just a way to make the citizens believe they have changed. Those that will buy into getting pulled over in a school zone and told the speed limit is 20 even though it is midnight. As for the point of police departments being on facebook, I think its a good idea. Although in smaller towns it may be plausible but in larger places like Houston, Chicago, etc. not so good. Too many people.

this is why... (1)

Kildjean (871084) | more than 3 years ago | (#36906252)

I quit face book...

Sgt Joe Smart (1)

jamiesan (715069) | more than 3 years ago | (#36907176)

Would you believe just the facts maam?

finally some good! (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 3 years ago | (#36907342)

Great to hear that facebook can be used for good instead of just evil!

Meanwhile at the G20 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36908216)

I hope "Officer bubbles" will be not my "friend".

Burglarwhat? (1)

smugfunt (8972) | more than 3 years ago | (#36912804)

Way too late, I know. But...
Builders build
Hunters hunt
Buglers bugle
So what do burglars do?

Re:Burglarwhat? (1)

Drugmath (1219638) | more than 3 years ago | (#36920880)

They burgle, you fucking dolt
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