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How Social media is being used by Police: The Vancouver Riots

Posted on May 8, 2012

Social media are meant to be used to share information, images, updates and life stories. However, it’s important to remember that the information posted on your social accounts can be used as incriminating evidence if it relates to a crime. People often forget, because of the casual nature of social media, that information posted there can be used against them, especially if it implicates them in criminal behavior.

After the Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots lastyear, many outraged Canadians, hoped that the instigators, would be brought to swift justice. The Vancouver Police however, didn’t have the easiest time tracking down Vancouverites who participated in the riots or singling out those Vancouver rioters who they were going to charge. As a result, they turned to social media to try and utilize other citizens’ disgust with the Vancouver rioters by getting their friends and acquaintances to use social media to identify them and subsequently notify police of their involvement in the Vancouver Stanley Cup riots.

How are the Police Using Social Media to Catch Participants in the Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

After the Vancouver Riots, the Vancouver Police Department urged social media users to turn to their accounts, and utilize information found there, whether it was posted comments, tweets or images of the riots, to turn in people they thought had taken part. They also started a community Facebook Page, where people with photographic evidence of Vancouver riot participators could upload images with the hopes of identifying and charging some of the participants.

How Should You Protect Yourself from Social Media Identification

There are several things you need to remember when you use social media that can help you protect yourself from police scrutiny:

  1. For Facebook, make sure that your profile page is completely private. That means that you should update your privacy settings so that only your friends, family and acquaintances have access to your updates, posts and images. This will not stop your friends from having access to things you post, but it can stop the general public, and people you don’t know from randomly accessing your information which they may end up using against you.
  2. Only allow people you trust to have access to the information you post on your social accounts. It may seem like a good idea initially to have a large number of social media connections, but keep in mind that each one of those connections has access to things that you share via social media, and they may not use that information the way you would like them to.
  3. Everything you post on the internet is accessible. Don’t post things that you think may get you in trouble with the law. If you have done something illegal, like taking part in the Vancouver Stanley Cup riots, make sure that you don’t post images of yourself taking part, or posts or updates about how you participated in these illegal activities.
  4. Be wary of how much information you post on your profiles and accounts. Most profiles will require a username, and that’s alright, but be careful about posting address, phone numbers and specific personal information which could be used against you.
  5. Remember: not everyone who has access to your social media accounts will utilize the information you post there with your best interests in mind. Everything that you post publicly can be used against you in the future, so keep that in mind when you share information about yourself through your social accounts.

How can a Vancouver Riot Lawyer help you?

Social media evidence can be misleading at best when it comes to the Vancouver Riots. Just because and image of you implies that you somehow took action in the riots,doesn’t mean that police can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you physically took part, or that the photograph is actually you. This is important, and a good Vancouver Riot Lawyer or Vancouver Defence Lawyer can help you to determine what type of evidence can actually be used against you. If you’ve been charged with a crime related to the Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots or any other crime through social media, call Mitch Foster, a Vancouver Defence Lawyer who has successfully defended thousands of clients charged with criminal offenses.