It has long been said that social media is a very valuable resource. The New York Police Department is finding out just how valuable it can be, as they are now using Facebook to track down criminals. This new initiative is incredibly useful. Think about your recent status updates. How many of them could be easily used to track you down? Something as benign as “Dinner at Olive Garden” could lead authorities right to your location if they ever had need to find you. This, coupled with Facebook’s “Places” and “Location” features make criminals using Facebook a walking target.

This has become an online world. Everyone has a Facebook account, from mass murderers to your neighbor’s dog, Poochie. We don’t often realize just how much we share online, a simple fact on which the New York Police Department has decided to capitalize. The process is incredibly simple, and requires a detective only to log in to Facebook and do a quick search for a criminal’s name. Using locations, status updates, pictures and their Facebook friends, detectives can track down the unwitting suspect with tremendous ease.

Criminals who think they are safe setting their account to “Private” have another think coming. Tech-savvy police forces have many ways around the privacy features so prominent on the site. Judges are even signing warrants and subpoenas that allow police to legally obtain any information posted on Facebook. The New York Police Department counts on criminals leaving their mark online, and most of the time they are not disappointed. They may even be able to stop a crime before it happens, or catch a lawbreaker who’s deeds have gone unnoticed. For most of us, social networking is a quick way to stay in touch with friends and family. For an unwitting criminal, it can be a trap.

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