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Facebook foolishness by lawmen
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Facebook foolishness by lawmen

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This was first published, in fuller form as Facebook Fools, on Russell Webster's blog on 23 March 2012 and is reproduced here with his kind permission. As he says, it is not just criminals who can be "reckless and foolhardy" about what they publish on Facebook.

"We know that police now routinely use Facebook as a source for finding criminals at large. It appears that many officers regularly incriminate themselves in the same way. The results of a Freedom of Information request by the Press Association found that there had been complaints against more than 200 UK police officers for comments or photos posted on Facebook in the last four years. Two officers were sacked, seven quit and more than 150 faced disciplinary charges. This story made all the papers over the Christmas period including the Telegraph.

@DietJustice recently posted a blog with draft social media guidance for police officers and helpfully provided links to some of the more bizarre stories out there.

Macho madness

An Albuquerque  police officer was placed on desk duty after he shot dead a criminal in the line of duty when the local television station dug up his Facebook Page on which he stated his profession as “human waste disposal”. Further details from the New York Times.

Sex, Drugs and Scotland Yard

Closer to home a Metropolitan Police Chief Inspector was sacked for gross misconduct for a variety of matters. He was adjudged to have used his position to advertise himself online to meet sexual partners while in uniform. The action that sealed his dismissal, though, was boasting on a dating website of committing a sexual offence and taking drugs. Yes, I did say Chief Inspector.

Supervision by Facebook

Probation services in the US now routinely check the Facebook pages of offenders they supervise for any criminality. It appears that the HR department at HMP Leicester might be doing the same thing. They dismissed a prison officer for associating with serving and former prisoners outside of working hours. Happily, he was so oblivious to his wrong-doing that he added several offenders as friends on his Facebook page. As a result he managed to get national coverage of his dismissal including in the Currant Bun.

Miscorrected

We end with my favourite story about how Facebook’s automatic Friend Finder service got Alan, a middle-aged Washington state corrections officer, into serious trouble. Alan was delighted to find love again after his first marriage split up and happily got re-married two years later. Unfortunately, he did not bother to get a divorce first. The Friend Finder suggested to Wife#2 that she “Friend” Wife #1 since they appeared to have people in common. She accepted the request and started wondering why her new Facebook Friend has a photo of herself and Alan standing surprisingly close to a wedding cake.

Alan was subsequently charged with bigamy and suspended from his job."

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