Law enforcement mining of social media through platforms that can access information which might otherwise never be uncovered has moved from the primary role of understanding criminal networks to a broad range of applications involving ongoing investigations. Many are using their social media programs as a real time monitor of a wide variety of criminal activities, as well as the acquisition of information.
Some of social media monitoring uses reported by investigators at law enforcement agencies:
(1) Using information obtained from social media as Probable Cause to obtain a search warrant.
(2) Identifying associates affiliated with or linked to Persons of Interest.
(3) Identifying the location(s) of criminal activity.
(4) Identifying criminal activity.
(5) Gathering photographs or statements to corroborate evidence.
(6) Identifying Persons of Interest.
(7) Identifying the location of Persons of Interest.
(8) Anticipating or identifying crimes that may be in the early stages.
Innovative law enforcement agencies will continue to find new uses for their social media platforms in both violent as well as white collar crime investigations. Social media resources, whose initial application was solely on the civil side, when it was used to obtain data on "unbanked" individuals for money service businesses, has proven to be an extremely valuable tool in law enforcement investigations.