We live in an interconnected world, with social media and social networking – Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and other tools – providing the world with much more information about each of us. Such an interconnected world means that information about you that you may consider “private” may, in fact, be public.
Here’s a rule of thumb: you should never say anything on Facebook anything you don’t want to hear again in a court of law.
The fact of the matter is that most people will never been charged with a crime. But for the people who do, prosecutors and investigators also know about Facebook and other websites, and know that a simple Google search may reveal additional information that could incriminate the defendant.
For instance, if you use drugs, don’t say so on Facebook. And if you deal drugs, don’t flash gang signs in your Facebook profile picture. You may be laughing, but you’d be surprised by the number of people – particularly young people – who say stupid and even criminal things on Facebook or twitter, and who, perhaps inadvertently, find themselves charged with a crime.
Police and prosecutors know that Facebook exists. Many of them, in fact, use Facebook. And they will search Facebook or other Social Media, or even simply Google, before your case is tried or before you are sentenced.
When you stand up before the judge and say, “Your Honor, I have changed my ways,” you better be sure that the prosecutor doesn’t turn around with a printout of your Facebook or MySpace page where you’ve talked about getting drunk or high the weekend before.
In addition, if a prosecutor wants to prove that you are in a gang, appearing in photographs flashing gang signs, or in gang colors, or even appearing to flash gang signs, even if you’re simply pretending, is a sure way to have a prosecutor and a judge decide that you should be labeled a gang member and that restrictions should be placed on who you hang out with.