*Do you really want to accept that friend request on social media? I mean, who is this “friend” really?
You might be surprised to learn its no friend at all. At least none you’d want to know.
According to recent reports, your new friend just might be a federal agent. And if you’re thinking, “Hey, I’ve done nothing wrong!” Or “I’ve got nothing to hide.”
Well, you may be right; but here’s what they’re probably looking for…
Cheaters! Liars! And everything in between.
Investigators are trained to think everyone is a liar. And those who have proven them right by cheating and stealing haven’t helped the situation. Subsequently, you may be suspect if you are currently in the middle of a claim for something like disability — or in the throws of a lawsuit (such as the one by the daughter of the Rev. Al Sharpton, who claims she is injured, yet posted Instagram shots of her scaling a mountain).
And when you posted how successful your entrepreneurial pursuits are on LinkedIn, you had probably forgotten about that pending unemployment claim.
But you know what? These undercover agents may actually be looking for something that has little to do with you per se…you might know somebody involved in suspicious activity…and the only way they can get to them, is through you.
Social media is the new breeding ground for getting the goods on possible suspects. So undercover feds are now locked in to sites such as FaceBook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter.
And guess who has made their job so much easier!
Especially those of you with the selfies, showing yourself here, there and everywhere. Those of you who can’t resist snapping a shot to show how fabulous your life is (or so you’d like people to believe).
“Look! Here I am at the store with my ‘bestie'” But according to the claim, you haven’t been able to get out of bed for months!
Information on you is not hard to get either. Agents create fake profiles that look legit to the unsuspecting person, and they use them to communicate with suspects.
An internal document from the Justice Department say these agents also use the sites to obtain private information. And this document is said to make your right to privacy look more like an option.
All in the pursuit of justice.
The document, which was released as the result of a “Freedom of Information Act” lawsuit, clearly shows that U.S. officials have been logging on to the social networks to converse with suspects, gather personal information, view personal photographs and video, and even collect the names of people who are friends with the person in question.
The information they collect is also used to compare alibis (what is posted online versus what information was given to the police). And your online images, such as jewelry, guns, and fancy cars; can even be used to link a suspect to a robbery.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group based in San Francisco, received the damning document when it sued six agencies in federal court. The document explains how important social networking is to the authorities.
According to the EFF, the document will be published on their website come Tuesday.
“You could really mess up someone’s investigation because you’re investigating the same person and maybe doing things that are counterproductive to what another agency is doing,” says detective Frank Dannahey from the police department in Rocky Hill, Conn.
Agents from the Secret Service, FBI, and others may be working undercover on these sites, so state and local police have to notify them all so they won’t jeopardize each others’ activity.
This activity by undercover agents is actually legal and falls under internal rules, according to officials in the Justice Department. However, it would be interesting to know what the details involved in these “rules” are.