Social Networking: Is Anything on the Internet Really Private?

Have you had a chance to read the latest story about Michael Jordan’s underage son bragging about how much money he lost in a casino in Vegas? Even the papers in Mississippi have reported the story. If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, click here. In Madison Mississippi the local police department arrested two men for harassing a bike rider on the Natchez. Guess how they caught the two men? They posted their video of the incident on a social media sight!

The real headline isn’t that 19 year-old Marcus Jordan lost $35,000 in one night; instead it’s how the media (and the Nevada gaming officials) found out about Jordan’s alleged illegal gambling – Twitter.

As I read the story, I could not help from thinking about the times I have heard people say in conversation, “Yeah, I heard about that on Facebook,” or “did you see what (insert friend’s name here) said on Twitter?”

Sure, most information posted on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are harmless. Most people really aren’t that interested what you had for lunch or that a millionaire’s son lost thousands of dollars while gambling. But gaming officials, who know Michael Jordan’s son is not old enough to gamble yet, really do care.

All of this begs the question: Why would anyone post information like this?

Yes, you could argue that people are addicted to the media and especially by the constant, fingertip access to information. You could even go so far to say that some people like to talk about their lifestyle choices as a way of drawing attention to themselves. But I think the real answer is that people don’t even consider the idea that law enforcement would use social networking sites to gather evidence against someone accused of a crime. Well, let me be the first to tell you if you don’t already know – they do. And if law enforcement doesn’t think to use them, then victims of crime definitely will.

Law enforcement can gather enough circumstantial evidence through Facebook, MySpace, or even Twitter to build a case against a suspect. Don’t believe me?
Ask her.

Or this guy.

Or even this guy.

No one needs a social networking site. Everyone just feels like they do. If you feel the need to stay in touch with friends through Facebook or share with your family what you are doing through Twitter, just be careful about the information you place out there for public consumption. If you even have a question about the information you want to share, then just don’t post it.

I promise you it’s not worth it.

Eric Brown Associate Coxwell & Associates

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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