The popularity of social media has led the San Francisco Police Department to hire an "Instagram officer" to scan the site and identify criminals.
The SFPD’s Eduard Ochoa reviews Instagram daily, looking for criminal activity or any people who might be connected to a crime, Fox News reported
. Though he’s been working as an online officer for several years, his role showed up in court documents last week.
It’s not new that police are using the multitude of online posts to catch criminals. In 2013, for instance, one man was arrested after he posted an Instagram selfie where he posed with stolen goods, Digital Trends reported.
"[Instagram] does help us tremendously in obtaining information from suspects, " SFPD spokesperson Officer Albie Esparza told The Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch
. "They post pictures of illegal activity. Some criminals even brag about it."
Instagram photos and other things posted online are often used in court, he told MarketWatch.
“If you post something on Instagram and you are posting it online, you’re sort of giving out information to the public. Essentially you have no expectation of privacy," Esparza said. "When you have photographic images or video surveillance, you can’t dispute that. It’s there."
The Asbury Park Press reported in January
that police also are using the Internet to catch criminals by posting photos and asking people for identification.
A man wanted on debit card fraud was tracked down after Toms River, New Jersey, police put a photo online, and the APP pointed to numerous cases around the country where people were apprehended after their photos went viral.
Five years ago, that wasn’t the case, Bruce Schneier, chief tech officer for cybersecurity firm Resilient Systems, told the newspaper.
"Police have always had this trouble: 'does it tip off the bad guys?' That's not just social media but any kind of public relations," he said.
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