FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2013-01-23
Facebook and other social media sites have been increasing their efforts to identify possible child predators that use their sites to reach children and teenagers. While the technology available to Facebook has improved and expanded over time, most online predators are not flagged in the system and end up reaching their victims without ever being stopped or identified. While some arrests are being made through the efforts of these websites, they still face problems trying to make sure that their sites aren’t being used to facilitate internet crimes against minors.
The reach of social media sites
Many social media users are unaware of the fact that Facebook and other similar sites have technology that scans the information on each users account. The technology can scan information that users write in all types of communications, including private messages, chat windows and even photos that are sent to other users.
In order to catch online criminals, websites use intelligent software and expert employees to scan activity for anything unusual or suspect. Some types of software use a filter to block certain types of language from being exchanged, or to prevent minors from sharing their personal information like addresses and phone numbers with strangers on the internet. Other types of software automatically detect when a user has made several inappropriate comments or solicitations for personal information. The software then blocks the user from the site without a security employee ever looking at the individual.
The use of these systems can be very expensive and requires a large number of employees to monitor them. The increase in mobile devices with internet access, like cell phones, may make it more difficult for these companies to effectively monitor their users online.
Privacy rights and social media
There are a lot of secret activities that take place without users’ knowledge because companies that run social media sites are often prevented by law enforcement from disclosing any information concerning investigations. This leaves a question in many peoples’ minds about exactly how private their information is online, and if and how the government can access the personal information shared through a social media site.
Many lawsuits have been filed against the government under the Freedom of Information Act, requesting that the government explain how and when it is obtaining the personal information of internet users. Congress passed the Electronic Communications Privacy Act in 1986, which limits the extent to which the government can breach privacy in an individual’s internet use.
If you have been accused of a crime due to your online activities, contact an experienced criminal law attorney. A Harris County attorney can help protect your rights and asses your options.