Man’s Facebook Friends Lead to Arrest

What is it about a glowing monitor screen in the darkness of your little pizza-ridden room that can lull you into acting as if NO ONE ELSE besides your friends are watching what you do or where you go?

According to Fox News a careless criminal, Maxi Sopo, was having so much fun “living in paradise” in Mexico recently that he posted about it on Facebook so all his friends could follow him too. Turns out, a federal prosecutor in Seattle, where Sopo was wanted on bank fraud charges, was surfing Facebook too. Tracking Sopo through his public “friends” list, the prosecutor found his address and had Mexican authorities arrest him.

Law enforcement officials browse the social networks, often under false name accounts, looking to break criminal alibis, catch pedophiles, or track down locations of criminals wanted or under investigation.

The social network is playing more of role even in popular shows too. A recent episode of “The Good Wife” on TV had an insurance investigator who nearly won in court because she had turned up an old fishing photo of the plaintiff, an ex-smoker, with a cigarette dangling from his hand.

Though the target was on criminals, the Sopo incident highlighted law enforcement limits and privacy issues associated with social networks. Marc Zwillinger, a former U.S. cybersecurity prosecutor, cited a need for careful oversight so that law enforcement does not use social networking to “intrude on some of our most personal relationships.”

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