Why Your New Friend on Facebook May Be a Cop

The Electronic Frontier Foundation reports on a 33 page IRS training manual instructing agents on how to infiltrate social networking sites like Facebook to get information. The Department of Justice recently published its own presentation.

Wired has more. My thoughts are here.

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    I enjoy Facebook (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Mar 17, 2010 at 09:24:11 PM EST
    on the most minimal level. It's where my kids post photos and information about what they are up to. With my son in LA, he seems closer.

    Young adult children "friend" their parents and their friends parents. My circle isn't unique in what kinds of things are shared, so I can't imagine that the gov't agencies are getting much more than one-liners and movie recommendations.

    Anyone who "friends" strangers and answers questions for them is asking for trouble.

    Me too, except nieces and nephews and (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by ruffian on Wed Mar 17, 2010 at 09:37:56 PM EST
    a few geographically scattered friends and siblings instead of kids. I would never accept a friend request from a stranger. I ignore some classmates I have not seen for 30 years too.

    Same here (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Zorba on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 05:57:10 AM EST
    Mostly to keep up with far-flung relatives and friends.  And see pictures of the their kids/grand-kids.  I cannot imagine "friending" someone you don't know.  Unless you're a new band or something, trying to get more notice.  And even them what would you be posting on Facebook except where your next gig is going to be?  I cannot imagine what a complete waste of time this is on the part of the cops, and a waste of taxpayer money.  What do they think they're going to find on Facebook?  The next al Qaeda sleeper cell?  A huge drug cartel?  Man, if real potential terrorists and drug runners are stupid enough to use Facebook to recruit and discuss their plans, they're buffoons and probably not very much of a threat.

    Facebook (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by squeaky on Wed Mar 17, 2010 at 09:42:15 PM EST
    I really do not see the appeal of joining one of these networks. It creeps me out that I would get invites from people I do not even know, naming several friends of mine who are on Facebook.

    Not for me.

    Not for me either . . . (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by nycstray on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 03:07:13 AM EST
    BUT ;) I did join up to participate in my CSA group. Been on for a year and 'only' have 8 "friends". And they really are friends, lol!~ It did help me find some of my friends that I want to reconnect with when I move and we are all hooked up now. Otherwise, I'm not down with a lot of their rules etc and I never post on it. I'm such a disappointment ;)

    Yeah (none / 0) (#10)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 04:38:23 AM EST
    I can see the utility for something like that, and several of my friends have said that it is possible to set privacy so that only a few can see the page.

    Still it creeps me out for some reason. I cannot see the benefit of joining.


    As one in the under 30 crowd (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by AX10 on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 11:08:17 PM EST
    I agree (and I know that I am in the minority right there).  Without actually meeting the person, IN PERSON, how do you know who they are?  Recall the "chat rooms" of the 90's?

    Well... (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Wed Mar 17, 2010 at 10:02:10 PM EST
    ...there was a time I often thought my Mom was really a cop with all her rules and whatnot.

    Hmmm.  She does still ask an awful lot of questions...

    It all makes sense now.

    I hope they like playing Farmtown (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by BarnBabe on Wed Mar 17, 2010 at 11:24:17 PM EST
    I don't even post things on my wall. Forget the city. And my picture, it was airbrushed from 10 years ago. But, I do enjoy FarmTown with a few friends. With all the new ways of communication, I still enjoy picking up the phone and talking real time to my family members and dear friends. We can share pictures via e-mail. So I tell my naive friends, be careful what you list as personal info and beware of strangers who might want to be your buddy.

    worse (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Jen M on Wed Mar 17, 2010 at 11:38:24 PM EST
    my dad's on it

    My theory (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 02:16:43 AM EST
    is that some people are going to back up from places like Facebook, and say, hey WHAT AM I DOING putting my face and life on the internet like that?

    But for now, I ignore and resist.  My dirty underwear is safely on the floor of the living room where it belongs (lol, kidding), not hanging out for all the world to see.  

    I'm told Facebook is the "best way" to stay in touch with my family.  To those who say that, I reply that they know where to find me if they want me.

    I have zero, zip, nada information on my face book (5.00 / 0) (#11)
    by dkmich on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 04:59:37 AM EST
    page, and it is still locked and private.   I let no strangers befriend me, and I won't accept invites from people I work with.    I'm there only to see what my family and my grandkids are up to.  

    I sent my grandsons this article.   I don't trust cops and kids will be kids.

    Heh... (5.00 / 0) (#17)
    by DancingOpossum on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 09:39:44 AM EST
    If they are so interested in my boring life - go ahead and look.  I promise they will be asleep in minutes.

    This is me. I use FB as a  way to keep in touch with people who aren't my bestest buddies (i.e., people I probably talk to most days), but that I like occasionally hearing from and seeing how they're doing. I am scrupulous about who I allow as a "friend"  and I can guarantee I have the most boring FB page in the whole history of the Intertoobz.

    see, there are advantages (none / 0) (#7)
    by cpinva on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 12:02:26 AM EST
    to being dull and shallow! i'm on none of those social networking sites, for a very simple reason: i can't imagine anyone being the least bit interested in what i'm up to. heck, half the time,
    don't care.

    law enforcement has always been able to access your financial information, from third party record holders (banks, credit card companies, brokers, etc), this latest is merely a logical extension.

    putting something out on the net destroys any claim you might have of an "expectation of privacy", since the whole world can potentially access it.

    I'm on FB (none / 0) (#13)
    by jbindc on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 07:34:24 AM EST
    And I have reconnected with so many people from college, high school, and even my best friend from 1st grade. That's been the great part. The worst thing on there is some unflattering pictures of me - not doing anything stupid or illegal, just bad pictures.

    If they are so interested in my boring life - go ahead and look.  I promise they will be asleep in minutes.

    The United States... (none / 0) (#14)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 08:45:42 AM EST
    of Narcs, Stoolies, Spies, and Informants...isn't it lovely. Not what I'd call the land of the free.

    Ray Davies said he was a "20th Century Man who didn't want to be here" in a "mechanical nightmare"...he should consider himself lucky he ain't a 21st Century Man...these poor kids are in for it boy.  May the computer gods have mercy on their souls.

    Hey man (none / 0) (#15)
    by jbindc on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 09:00:21 AM EST
    If you don't want someone looking at you funny, don't put pictures of yourself on the internet doing something illegal or confessing to doing something illegal!

    And come to think of it - one of my FB friends IS a cop.  He said all his cop buddies have been on FB for a whie now - they love it as much as the rest of us.


    True enough.... (none / 0) (#16)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 09:17:40 AM EST
    the social networking people are asking for it...but I still shed a little tear over them getting the police state business.

    And you know how I feel about payin' some narc or auditor or spy to play on facebook all day, on the clock, on our dime...that's we the people's sin.  

    As for your cop buddies, what they do on their own time is their business (and whoever is spying on them's business:)...they better watch what they post too or its their job.


    I was actually surprised (none / 0) (#20)
    by jbindc on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 10:16:29 AM EST
    That he had FB page and that he said all the cops he works with do too.  But then again, I have a friend who's a county Assistant Prosecutor (which really surprised me, seeing as they put people in jail and people get angry with them for doing their job), and a friend who's an FBI agent too.

    The more I think about these things (none / 0) (#21)
    by jbindc on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 10:17:34 AM EST
    I also have friends who work on the Hill and work in the Administration.  You think someone somewhere might like to get pictures of even low-level employees doing something stupid?

    Yeah... (none / 0) (#22)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 10:32:39 AM EST
    dirty bird characters abound, out to get the dirt on somebody.

    Me...I wonder why people care what some knucklehead posts on facebook or the like.  Paying people to view such postings in search of a "gotcha", criminal or otherwise, seems like a total waste of time.  It's lame enough that banks and employers are using it to dig sh*t up on people looking for a loan or a job.  


    anyone (none / 0) (#18)
    by Jen M on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 10:09:56 AM EST
    who takes a picture of you and knows who you are can post it.

    I found out when I was 'tagged' in a photo. I never knew someone was taking my picture.


    I guess the thing is (none / 0) (#19)
    by jbindc on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 10:14:10 AM EST
    I don't do things that would completely embarrass me(or do illegal things), so if someone takes my picture, the only thing I'd complain about is that it's ugly. I know the score - I'm looking for a permanent job - employers are all over FB, even if you already have a job.  The moral of the story is - be discreet.

    And you can "untag" yourself too.


    untag (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by CST on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 10:33:48 AM EST
    or adjust your privacy settings so that no one can see photos tagged of you.  That way there is no time-lapse.  Also, if you only want certain people to be able to see those photos and not everyone you are "friends" with on facebook, you can create a seperate list of people who can see things others can't.

    I highly recommend that anyone who uses fb review the privacy policies available.


    thanks (none / 0) (#25)
    by Jen M on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 11:22:06 AM EST
    I wasn't doing anything in any way interesting, I was just surprised. (and I don't like photos of myself)  Its good to know how to keep from happening again though.

    my life is so boring (none / 0) (#26)
    by Jen M on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 11:23:11 AM EST
    any pictures people get of me are not gonna go viral. Ever.

    Really? (none / 0) (#27)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 02:22:28 PM EST
    Even with photo shop type enhancements? Don't be so sure.

    oh boy (none / 0) (#30)
    by Jen M on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 08:07:20 PM EST
    these only apply (none / 0) (#24)
    by cpinva on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 10:52:47 AM EST
    to other members, not law enforcement.

    I highly recommend that anyone who uses fb review the privacy policies available.

    if FB, or any other site, gets a legal authorization to release your material to the police, they will, in a flash, no hesitation, no remorse.

    "Fools names like Fools face... (none / 0) (#28)
    by Gerald USN Ret on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 04:48:47 PM EST
    "Fools names like fools faces often appear in public places."

    That's what my mom said.

    Now my current wife (who is the exception of course) has a big Facebook presence with many of her friends, Church friends, school friends, children, etc. as friends.

    She enjoys it very much and she has a big laptop on the desk that usually has the browser set with 2 tabs open.  One for the Facebook account and the other for Gmail.

    I don't have a personal Facebook account.  I do have a pseudo one with even a pseudo picture just for access.

    need to pay for Obamacare (none / 0) (#29)
    by diogenes on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 07:58:30 PM EST
    If the IRS finds tax cheats via Facebook, what's wrong with that?  Isn't that called a "lifestyle audit"?