Social media, like Facebook and Twitter, have allowed millions to keep in touch with their friends, renew acquaintances with old school friends, and make new friends. With the ease and convenience of the instant communication, however, there comes a price. As is the case with most electronic media, Big Brother is watching.
One recent incident highlights the concerns for anyone posting personal information to the internet. Robert Lewis Crose, 47, was living in northern Montana when authorities found him via the social network, reports the AP.
Crose had been convicted in California in 1996 for making a terrorist threat and a gun violation. He was paroled in 1997, but violated his parole, went back to prison and received parole again in 1998. He then disappeared, apparently to Montana. He then proceeded to live under the radar in Montana for twelve years, completely unnoticed by authorities.
A fugitive task force in California located Crose after he posted an update to his Facebook page. Crose's Facebook page has a post from Oct. 28, where he complains that his "water line froze even with heat tape and wrap" after the temperature fell to 20 degrees below zero. When someone asked where he was at, Crose responded with a post that said "Cut Bank." And that was all the fugitive task force need to zero in on him.
The task force notified local authorities in Cut Bank. He was arrested in a local casino.
Common Parole Violations
Parole, which technically is supervised release of a prison inmate prior to the expiration of their sentence, carries many conditions. Conditions of parole vary based on the underlying conviction.
Requirements of the parolee include regular meetings with parole officers, no drugs, no firearms, no contact with parties engaged in criminal activity, and restrictions on the parolee's movement. If a parolee were permitted to leave a jurisdiction, it would almost always require prior approval of the parole officer.
Facebook enables instant updating of the events that go on in your life, permitting you to easily notify "friends" of everything from the last time you bought a Starbucks to the birth of a child. However, electronic media can be, and is, monitored, and with the threat of terror omnipresent, governmental agencies have increased their technical and legal ability to observe and track many activities on the internet.
"If you want a picture of the future..."
As social media websites play a larger role in social interaction, they also take on enhanced legal significance. From schools dealing with cyber bullying, to divorce lawyers trolling through adverse parties sites on the internet for "incriminating" evidence of extra-marital affairs, it is important to remember that even "private" discussions may not be so private. Parole violations, even if inadvertent, if broadcast on the internet, could land the parolee back in prison. Because remember, with the internet, Big Brother, or at least a parole officer, is always watching.