Police Using YouTube, Facebook To Gather Crime Evidence


Police increasingly are using YouTube and other online social networks to root out criminals, says USA Today. In January, police in Chattanooga, Tn., discovered an online forum in which local residents were planning illegal drag races. Officers staked out an area where a drag race was expected and ticketed four racers caught in the act. Los Angeles police used images on YouTube and the photo website Flickr to identify people involved in riots after the June 2009 NBA Championship.

In November, police in Minneapolis and St. Paul, arrested four people for assault after seeing videos they had posted of themselves. “For many years, they’ve had (the television show) America’s Dumbest Criminals,” said Minneapolis police spokesman Jesse Garcia. “It’s people like this that feed that.” People who post such videos do so, in part, because they “believe there is a degree of anonymity on the Internet,” Nashville criminal defense attorney David Raybin said. When he gets a new client, Raybin said, “the first thing I tell them is, ‘You are shutting down your Facebook account.’ ” YouTube prohibits content that is intended to incite violence and videos of illegal activities. The company relies on users to flag violators.

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