Law enforcement uses social media to make 4 arrests in FL

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COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. &38212; — Pictures and posts on your social media network can be used against you. Whether you are using Facebook, Twitter or Instagram — anything you post is potential evidence and law enforcement is taking advantage.

Florida's Collier County Sheriff's Office and Naples Police Department have made at least four arrests this year by using social media to try and prove suspects committed a crime.

"When you post something online, you really do so at your own peril," said Collier County Judge Robert Crown.

If you do something illegal and decide to share it through social media, everything you post becomes public — making it fair game for law enforcement.

"Law enforcement officers under the right circumstances, if they follow the right procedures, can access that information and use it against you," Crown said.

Some argue searching social media is an invasion of privacy. But unlike searching a home or password-protected e-mail account, social media is considered public, so officers don't need a warrant or subpoena to search.

"If your privacy settings are set to public anyone can log on and see your information then yes, you have forfeited all rights to or expectation of privacy," Crown said.

Even if your profile page is private and officers can't access your account, if a friend shares it online or decides to hand it over, the evidence can still be used against you.

As long as a prosecutor can prove the posts or pictures are authentic and came from the defendant, they are admissible in court.

There are laws in place meant to protect your privacy when it comes to e-mails and phone records, but with newer social media, legislation has not caught up with technology yet.

"If you don't want it on the 6 o'clock news don't do it," Crown said. "So that's the advice, don't post it."

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Gaby Fleischman, NBC News


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