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I am with the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commission, as Bruce said. My role
there is the Research and Grants Coordinator. About two years ago, three years ago, I was
asked if I could develop training for law enforcement relating to the use of Social
Media: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, blogs, for law enforcement officers on and off duty.
So I started to research, because that’s what they asked me to do, and I found one
policy in Minneapolis. I culled all across the United States and was told “You know
what, if you find one, can you let us know?’ So I have a whole collection of policies,
if you want them, I have my cards in the back, and I’d be happy to send them to you by
e-mail, because I know how quickly I lose paper from my office to here, and it’s only
about 50 miles. So I will share that with anybody.
What I’m here to talk to you about today is Social Media, as I started to look into
the training, what I found was a Maryland State Trooper who had received a lot of recognition
who was doing Social Media training. I rode with him. We did about a seven-hour presentation.
Most of it was Sgt. Cohen. He would talk about all the different search engines, the different
types that were out there, all of the different ways to use this. He does a lot with cell
phone technology. Thirty minutes into the training, I was going [lip noise], so I dumbed
it down, and did Social Media 101, and geared it towards people in my age group who probably
did not grow up with this technology, but who have kids that can do it, and grandkids
who can do it with their eyes closed, and that’s what this is. It’s going to be
a very brief overview of what’s out there, what people can find out about you, as well
as policies that have been developed or what you should consider when you’re doing policy
development, and some of the current lawsuits having to do with Social Media.
Search Engines, I’m going to start with, how many of you are familiar with the search
engines that are up there? Any of you use pipl? Have you heard of it before, that’s
the p-eye-p-el? That is a search engine for exactly what is says, it is a search engine
for people. So if I want to find out about people, and these are all free, or you’ll
see the free versions of it, what I’m going to do is go to the pipl site, I’m going
to type in a name. This is not anybody’s political affiliation, I just went with a
really common public figure so that I could not get in trouble, because I always manage
to find a way to do that anyway. This is the search that I did, when I did the search,
it brought me back links to the most common searches that are out there, it brought me
back all the locations where his name appears. I can narrow this down, I can leave in all
the locations. It then went on and found me images. It found all sorts of images that
are public. Down here you’ll see, there’s a little affiliation for where it’s from,
some of those are Picasso, some of those are MySpace. When you are using Social Media,
like Facebook and MySpace, it will ask you to upload a profile picture. If you do that,
your profile picture can never be private. So many of these are going to be a profile
picture, it could be something that I ripped off the Web. So if I want to set up a Barack
Obama account, I can go out and I can search the Web, I can find a picture of him that
I like, and go ahead and put that, I can save it to my computer and then I can upload it
as my image for my page and present that to be his. I love to tell that to chiefs of police
and other figures, that I may or may not play with their accounts.
That’s pipl. Another one is Spokeo, it’s a paid site, you can get basic information
off of Spokeo. When I say paid site, we’re talking about you can purchase a month for
2.95, two dollars and ninety-five cents, you can purchase a year for about 40 dollars.
When I first started to do the training, I would do one [training] that we host at the
Training Commissions, and I got a call from a sergeant with the Anne Arundel County Police
Department who said “hey, I’m interested in your training, can you give me more information
about it.” I did, hung up the phone, I had his name, it was an unusual name, searched,
e-mailed him back and said, “By the way, do you live in Bel Air, Crofton or Severn?”
He e-mailed me back and said I live in Severn, but how do you know that, I’m not on any
of these sites. I said “here’s what I want you to do,” and I sent him this [screen
capture] and what I e-mailed him was can I use your information in the class that you
attend to show how I do a live search. He e-mailed me back and said since “I don’t
have cars on blocks in my backyard, go ahead and use it.” I thought that’s unusual,
because normally what you get is an aerial view that’s not this detailed, so I went
back and searched him again, and that’s the image that people can get if they do a
search of you and they’re paying for the survey. What is blacked out up here, or actually
whited out up here is the full physical street address for that property that he lives at.
Also in there, if you look at that information, are the titles, the names of the people on
the deed to the property. So not just his name, but his spouse or significant other’s
name was also on there. So that’s one called Spokeo, and again, when we talk about cost
for these things, I work for the state, we don’t have any money so I’m not going
to pay for it, but for somebody who’s interested in getting the information, three dollars
is not that prohibitive. And a lot of them let you do a free seven-day trial and that
you just cancel it with the credit card that you stole. So, those are search engines
I do a longer version of this training. In that training, what I talk about is all the
different things you can search on a search engine. You can search cell phone numbers.
Some sites for that, NamePhone.com, it will search landlines and cell phone numbers but
that’s a pretty good one for cell phone numbers. The pipl that I just showed you,
p-eye-p-el.com, they’ve just added cell phone numbers, they’re doing a pretty good
job bringing information back. What it will bring you is wireless carrier and the name
of the person that the phone is registered to, if they have it. It’s very hit or miss.
I will tell you that one, I’ve had my cell phone for about a hundred years and it does
not come back to me.
Images, you can now use sites like tineye.com and Google images to upload an image and search
that for the exact same likeness for a comparison of that likeness, so when I talk about search
engines, it’s not just a what’s a general term that you’re looking for more information
about. You can be specific to somebody’s name, you can be specific to their address.
White Pages just put out a White Pages Neighbors page, it brings up a map of your address and
then beside it are all the houses that are around you if you have neighbors. My goal
in life is to never have neighbors, but I’m not that lucky right now. But it will bring
up all the addresses around you and it has like a pin, and if you click on the pin, it
will tell you the names of the people that live in that particular address, and it’s
typically anyone age 18 or older. These are search engines.
Microblogs, “y,” tumblr., whatyadoin.com, Plurk and Twitter, What a microblog is, it’s
a one-way feed of information, it’s limited in the number of characters that you can send.
The most commonly used one is Twitter, it’s a hundred and forty characters, I cannot respond
to it immediately, it’s not like a chat feature where I can send something out and
somebody can immediately respond back to me. It’s just a one-way feed. Now people can
do what’s called a “return tweet,” and if you ever look at a Twitter account, you’ll
see the actual Tweet that goes out, that’s what it’s called on Twitter, and then you’ll
see an RT, which is a return Tweet. And just as an aside, if you follow somebody on Twitter,
you’re their “Tweeple.”
That’s just a slide that, every now and then we have to threaten to give tests, that’s
just a slide we used for that, but here’s how it pertains to Social Media. There was
a young woman in California who was pursuing her master’s in information technology.
She was offered an internship from Cisco. She sent this Twitter feed out on her account.
Her Twitter account was wide open. There’s something called Tweet Beat, or Tweet Alert.
These are free services you can sign up for, you can put terms in those services, so if
something is put out that is one of your key words, one of your terms, and I’m going
to assume in this case it was Cisco, you’ll get a notification. So when I joked about
I could set up a Barack Obama Facebook page or MySpace page, I can also do that with a
Twitter account. I can do it on LinkedIn. I can do it on any of the Social Media sites,
so if I’ve set something up to be a Tweet Beat, then any time something is sent out
on Twitter that has the term that I’ve identified, or the terms I’ve identified, I would get
a notification. So this young lady put out this Twitter feed, this is the response that
she got within seconds, apparently. Now, the story goes that it was an unpaid internship
and she was being sarcastic. That’s not the story Cisco is saying. Regardless, she
ended up not going to work for Cisco.
Blogs, a blog is slightly different than a Twitter feed in that it’s your online journal
or your diary. So anything that you want to post in your top-secret diary that many of
us, well, many of the women in the room, not to be sexist, may remember from our teenage
years where you kept a journal and you hid it from your brothers and your sister and
then they would find it and threaten you with things. Now, this is something you can go
online to do, and you can either set it up to protect or you can put it out there for
people to see. You can upload videos. You can upload photos. You can make whatever statements
you want to make. This is one of my personal favorites. The nice thing about being a researcher
for the state is I can do this at work. And it’s called My Ex-Wife’s Wedding Dress.
The story behind it is that this gentleman came home from work one day and his wife had
cleaned out the house. The only thing that she left was her wedding dress hanging in
the closet of the master bedroom that they shared. After several beers, and there’s
lots of references to beer in his journal entries, after several beers he came up with
the idea that he was going to find one hundred uses for this wedding dress. And he was going
to blog about this in his online blog. This thing has been a Smart Car cover, a tent,
it’s been in several different parades, it’s been a fishing net, you name it. But
that’s just one example of a blog that’s out there.
Another blog that’s out there, this is a blog that was maintained by a young man who
was hired by the Seattle State Patrol, I’m sorry, the Washington State Patrol, and he
wanted to be a trooper with them, and he maintained a blog before he came into the field, he had
actually been in information technology, and if you look at his blog, you’ll see it started
about three years before he got hired by Washington State. He claims that at the time he was hired
that he disclosed he maintained a blog and nobody told him he couldn’t. So he maintained
the blog through his academy experience. One of the things he did was he embedded a video,
well he embedded many videos into his blog, [loud car radio during video].
Okay, I’m here today to speak to you guys about Social Media policy. Is there anything
in the video that you just saw that you would see as a problem or that could present a problem
to your agency?
[Not in the video, but at the beginning of it, he was saying something about selling
That is the role play that they do in the actual training. I think you’re the first
person that’s ever caught that. Anybody else?
It’s from YouTube, all you have to do is do a search of EVOC. Anybody else? Soundtrack?
It’s not a soundtrack, it’s the radio playing in the car.
He is putting this up as an official training video. Do you feel comfortable to have your
officers out in a training environment with the stereo blasting in the car, or could that
eventually become a liability that comes back to find you? So you made valid points, I found
it off YouTube, there’s a couple different ways to find it on YouTube. There is the professional
environment of the training, er the training environment, is it professional? No. Is this
the way that every single student who was in this particular academy class that he identified
on his blog was trained? Don’t know. So just things to consider.
As far as Social Media headlines, every now and then I update these, again, just as a
refresher for why we may need these policies.
Georgia Jailer Fired After Sending a Facebook Request to an Inmate. This one was recent.
Apparently a very attractive young woman, there were two correctional officers who found
her to be attractive, they both tried to talk to her while she was in their, in their custody.
She refused all advances. Her boyfriend came to visit. She complained to him. He went to
the sheriff, made a complaint, they did an investigation and found that not one but two
of the men had sent her friend requests while she was in the institution.
Middle School Girls Arrested for Bogus Facebook Page and Bullying. When Elliott and I speak
about this, we talk about setting up Face, er fake Facebook pages, one of the things,
the reason why I watch the headlines, and I watch the cases is, I have yet to see where
anybody has been sued for undercover profiles that officers have created. So that’s one
of the ones I pay attention to. But you’ll see that you can be arrested for bullying
and for the Facebook page.
Burger King Employee Believed to be in a Disturbing Lettuce Picture Was Fired. I found the pictures,
I just thought I’d share it. You guys might not want to go to Burger King for Lunch. Just
a suggestion. That one was recent. From 4Chan.org, again 4Chan.org is just a Social Media site
where you can go and post things. This guy posted this. Brilliant.
Lawsuits. There’s a privacy lawsuit that’s pending against a Social App. And this has
to do with if you are putting your information out there, what they’re finding is that
the applications you’re using on your SmartPhones, your Droids and your iPhones, and anything
else that you might be using, are actually going and going through your address books.
And they’re using that information in ways that are not agreeable to you as the user.
So there is a lawsuit currently pending.
The other one is Facebook privacy issues, the actual story behind that second one is
that a man was on a Social Media site and there was an ad that popped up on his site
for a dating service and featured in that ad was a picture of his wife. And he had no
idea and neither did she, or so she claims. And basically, what it was was she had used
some kind of product, and the way that the ad worked or however she uploaded the information,
they were able to pull her image and it was put into an online dating service as if she
were one of their customers.
An example of a case that’s been out there is Stengart versus Loving Care Agency. This
is a woman who knew she was going to get fired. So she sent e-mails to her attorney by sitting
at her company computer, signing into her personal Yahoo account and creating an e-mail
and sending it to her attorney. The company software, most of us have a kind of Internet
policy, a kind of a use policy, that basically says anything you do on our computers is ours
and don’t expect privacy. What happened was, everything that she sent was captured
by the software that’s used to maintain that computer. When she went to court, what
the company had found was, they had copies of her e-mails to and in court, at the actual
court level, she argued that there was a reasonable expectation of privacy in her confidential
attorney communications. The initial court did not agree with that and ruled against
her. The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that she could reasonably expect that e-mail communications
with her lawyer through her personal, password-protected, web-based e-mail account would remain private,
and that despite the fact that the company had a policy saying that we’re going to
look at anything you do, or we have the right to look at anything you do on your computer,
because it was her personal account, it was password-protected, she had the right to privacy
and that was confidential information. That’s an easy lawsuit to get through if you ever
read it. The other ones I’m going to give you are not so easy, because what you’re
going to find is that the courts are very divided on what’s appropriate and what isn’t
In New York, there was a ruling that people do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy
in private Facebook and MySpace postings. How many of you have Facebook accounts, LinkedIn
accounts, some kind of Social Media account? When you went into those accounts, did you
go in and set up all of your privacy settings so that everything was private? Did you do
it for every single topic area for everything that’s on a page? For example, on Facebook,
if you do not want people to know that what you post on your wall, or on your newsfeed,
you have to set that as private or restrict who can access it. If you don’t also do
that for your photos, then what would happen is, I could do a search of you without even
being on Facebook, I could search your name, and it’s going to tell me you protect some
of your information, but if you did not protect your photos, I could scroll through all of
them. If you did not protect your friends, I could scroll through all of them. If you
don’t know that, then you probably didn’t do it, so go back and check it, or check it
from your phones while I’m speaking. But basically, what New York said is that even
if you set everything to private, but you maintain the Social Media account, you don’t
have an expectation of privacy because the Social Media companies tell you the whole
purpose of this is to socialize.
In California, what they decided is that if you set things to private that you have a
reasonable expectation of privacy. So again, it’s going to be divided depending on where
That one was specific to the attorney. They went back on attorney-client privilege.
I have some other examples, though. In Pennsylvania, Eagle versus Moran, I think Moran was the
employee, the employee was terminated. And here’s what the company did. The company
encouraged employees to get on LinkedIn and create accounts. And for those of you who
aren’t familiar with LinkedIn, it’s the professional side of Facebook, is really all
it is. It’s the one that your companies don’t filter and block because you’re
building business relationships. So the employee developed connections on her LinkedIn account
for the purpose of promoting the business she worked for. Well, she got fired. When
she got fired, LinkedIn is a public account. She simply went to whatever computer or SmartPhone
or wherever she went and opened up that account. And then she contacted all of the contacts
she had developed while she was an employee. And so the company actually sued her saying
that she stole account connections after she was terminated. They lost, the company actually
lost on that one.
Tompkins versus the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, this is an individual who fell at the airport
and sued for loss of life enjoyment and all the things an attorney will put into a lawsuit.
And they tried to introduce Facebook evidence of the person talking about they had gone
on a trip, or had been someplace, and what happened is the court ruled that because she
had set her account settings to private, or limited the content as far as who could see
the content, at the time she set her account up, so it wasn’t like it was public and
then she filed the lawsuit and then she thought “oh there’s stuff on there they could
use against me” so then she went in and set it to private. Her account had pretty
much been set on private or limited access from the time it was created. The courts ruled
in her favor that they could not use her Facebook information and that she did not have to turn
over her password or change the access just so the attorneys could rummage through the
account. Because she had attempted to protect it at the beginning they allowed it to stay
Largent vs. Reed, it was the complete opposite. When the account was set up it was wide open,
anybody could go in and take a look at it. And so she had posted pictures of trips she
had taken, and it was the same thing, she had been injured and um claimed that she had
lost life enjoyment and all of that and so she went in and posted pictures of trips she
had been on, of events she had attended, all-post injury. And when they went out, when the attorneys
went out and did their own research, the attorneys found these pictures. Then she got smart and
went and set everything to private. Well, if something’s wide open, and I see it,
and I do alt print screen, and then I open up another product, such as Microsoft Word
or PowerPoint or any of that and I do Control V and I paste it in, I’ve now captured your
screen shot, everything that’s been out there, and it’s mine and I can save it to
my computer. Even if you go and close all of your stuff, I still have it. So after she
went and closed all of her accounts, her pictures had already been found, her postings had already
been found, and they had been posted to an alternate source so somebody had a record
of it. In that case, what happened, she lost her complaint about privacy because what they
said is that basically you put it out there, it was able to be found, it’s protected
now but it wasn’t protected at the time that we found it.
The last one that’s up there, that was Virginia and it was six sheriff’s deputies and three
civilian staff there were fired after the sheriff was re-elected. Three of those deputies
and all three of the civilian staff had clicked “like,” which is just a button, on the
sheriff’s political opponents Web, er Facebook page. So they claimed that the sheriff fired
them because they liked his political foe. And there’s a lot more to that case, but
that was one of the things that they brought in their case, in their suit against him.
The court found in favor of the sheriff.
If anyone is interested in what’s going on, this is a site, down here, and what it
will do is take you to every case referencing Social Media. And these are all from the past
six months. And what will happen is, when you open it up it looks like an Excel Spreadsheet.
When you click on that, it will open up and then it will take you to the actual court
documents as far as what was offered in the suit and what the ruling was and how they
came to that. It’s really interesting reading. I know that’s hard to see, so I do have
a hard copy printout of it and I’ll see anybody when I’m done if they want to make
a copy but it’s easier to read. Or if you e-mail me, I’ll go ahead and just send the
link to you. So, but that one’s pretty good as far as it goes, it’s a legal blog but
it will take you to everything that’s out there.
The reason I’m here today is to talk about policy. The purpose of a policy, as most of
you know, is to protect the agency, the individual and the public, and to promote public trust.
Examples of reasons why you might want to have a policy on Social Media things, well,
with Google, what Google says is that if you come to Google, and you type Google.com into
your browser, into the URL and you hit enter, and you come back to it, then you have become
a user of Google and you have agreed to their terms of service. And some of the things in
the terms of service are that you if you set anything up with a password and a user name,
then it’s your responsibility to protect the password, that’s all that is. And Google
is taking over the world of technology. Just an FYI. So, that said, when you are using
Social Media sites, when you’re on your Gmail account, because if any of you have
Gmail accounts and you’ve gone to take a look at the account, it brings up everything,
it’s not just Gmail, it’s all the Google products in the world. Don’t publish anything
that you don’t want strangers to be able to access. Here are some people who did.
That’s not a typo, every time I’ve gone to search for this young man’s name, it’s
apparently Math, apparently his parents had other aspirations for him than the Washington
State Patrol again. This young man went through the Washington State Patrol Academy, he graduated,
he almost completed his field training, when one of his friends, I think she was about
17 years old, he was 22, one of his friends on Facebook, was in her parents’ house,
at the dining room table, on her laptop looking at her Facebook account, and she had pulled
up pictures of him because they’re friends. Even though he had set everything to private,
they were friends and she could access it. In some of the pictures, it was his recent
graduation pictures, so here he is, very fit, and in his uniform, looking good, posing for
his pictures at the graduation. In other pictures, he was in civilian attire, out at a bar, he’s
22, he’s allowed to do that, drinking. In one of the pictures, he’s holding a pitcher
of beer, and the caption under it talks about how wasted he is and that he’s waiting for
a ride home. The father walks by, stops, takes a look at the pictures and writes a letter
of complaint to the Washington State Patrol. And says basically here’s a young man who
represents your agency, he should represent your agency at all times, and he’s sending
the wrong message to groups of influential young adults or teenagers, take your pick.
That launched an internal investigation and based on the results of the internal investigation,
the young man was fired. So for those of you who remember the academy and the FTO experience,
you’ve lost more than six months and less than a year of your life. And your career.
Michael Wilmer, in Ohio, he did MySpace when MySpace was still popular, his actions on
duty triggered an FBI and internal probe, I believe he tasered a pregnant woman in the
lobby of the sheriff’s department. That’s what triggered the probe. He was fired for
posting evidence from police investigations on the Internet, specifically he had a picture
of evidence that was seized in a drug bust that involved some marijuana and money. Let
me tell you this, I do not pretend to know what you guys do in your careers, I’m civilian
and I have been all my life, but even I know that you don’t do that kind of stuff, and
it was an active ongoing investigation that he posted the pictures from. He also posted
a picture of his cruiser speedometer going a hundred miles an hour because I guess he
could do it. He was fired.
Officer Cromer with the Lexington Police Department, he was also on MySpace. He and a bunch of
his buddies had MySpace pages before Facebook had taken off and they would like to put comments
up about the citizens of Lexington and they had terms for them. They were the garbage
collectors and the citizens of Lexington were the garbage. They liked to make comments about
taking out the trash. They also specified what trash was. If someone was mentally deficient,
if they were gay, if they just didn’t meet the standards of the officers, they were targeted
on the MySpace pages. He was fired, the other four or five officers involved were all disciplined.
In his case, though, he was fired. It was the third time that his agency had attempted
to fire him. He had sued the previous two times and won. This time, the third time was
the charm and he stayed fired. But again, if you don’t have a strong policy to support
what you’re doing, it becomes a problem.
Knee jerk reactions that many of us are used to, well these things are happening, we need
to take care of this. In Bozeman, Montana, they adapted their job application form and
on it they asked you to list all past and present, personal or business websites or
web pages, anything that you were involved in. The other thing that they asked you for,
your user name for each one of the accounts that you listed as well as your password.
Let’s just say that didn’t fly and they don’t do that anymore.
Maryland did something similar. I believe that we are in the midst of a lawsuit on that,
I haven’t seen a whole lot, where we had a correctional officer who went out on leave,
when he came back from leave they decided to do a background check on him, so already
I can tell you there’s something off on that. They asked him for his Facebook password.
He refused to give it up. They told him he was basically going to be fired if he didn’t
give it up and that’s where the lawsuit is at this point.
As far as the dangers of Social Networking sites, it’s a poor reflection on the agency
if officers put themselves in compromising situations by doing things like sharing personal
opinions. You just want to be careful. No matter how private you think something is
set, it isn’t. It’s a violation of agency policy, it compromises departmental information
and it’s misuse of equipment. Many of the policies I found when I first started to do
the research into the policies, you can’t post an image of anything departmental-issued.
So a badge, a weapon, a car, handcuff key. It doesn’t matter. If the department issued
it to you, you cannot put it in a picture and you cannot post it anywhere for people
to see. That was kind of a reaction to what people wrote.
The challenges of postings, they can be seen by the public. Only about a third of you put
your hands up, so basically, if you don’t use Facebook, here’s how it works. I can
go in and I can set whatever privacy level I want to set it to. If I post something,
and somebody who is in my approved friend list makes a comment on that, they have now
opened up my posting for all of their friends to see. So if I have 110 friends, and the
average Facebook user has I think it’s 125, I try to stay below average, but if I have
110 friends, and one of my 110 friends comments on a picture I’ve posted, or a comment that
I’ve made, and that person has 300 friends, my comment shows up on their news feed, and
then just a little blurb that they liked it or they commented on it, and it opens it up
for their 300 friends. The friends that I have range in age from 13, which is the youngest
you can be supposedly to have a Facebook account, to probably in their 80s. And that’s because
I stalk my babysitters. Teenagers on average have a thousand friends. And basically it’s
anybody who sent me a friend request I’m gonna accept that because Facebook’s like
a popularity contest for them. So again, it’s opened up for a thousand of your closest,
dearest friends, and that’s how this doesn’t stay private. It can be seen, it can be interpreted
as a reflection on the entire department. You know, “I went to work today”…I’ll
give you an example. I have a neighbor, she’s the mother of my babysitters. And she decided
to get on Facebook. And she sent me a friend request, and I’ve been friends with her
daughters for as long as they’ve been babysitting for me. And I’m like, Okay, she’s seems
decent enough, I’ll go ahead and put this out there. And I don’t think this language
is going to offend anybody, but basically, she, I accepted the friend request probably
on a Sunday night. Monday morning, the first posting of hers that shows up on my wall because
she’s in my friend list is “oh, it’s another Blank Monday and I have to go work
with those Blank Blank.” Well, this is now out on for everybody on my friends
list to see. So my first thought is “okay, she’s having a bad day, I’m going to let
her have that.” Now when she got home at 4:30, it was a very detailed, just as profanity-laced
discussion she had with herself and all of her Facebook friends about how her day had
been with the people she works with at this company. Doesn’t do a whole lot for employee
morale. Doesn’t do a whole lot for neighbor morale. So, I couldn’t unfriend her because
that’s politically, you know, not the right thing to do to my neighbor. So I went in and
I hid all of her posts, but I didn’t pay any attention to what I’d done, because
this just came to light. See, you can block somebody’s posts from appearing on your
wall, or you can block their posts completely. If you block their posts completely, they’re
removed from your friends list but they’re not notified and neither are you. So I’m
having a conversation with her months after this happened and she says to me “we’re
not friends on Facebook” and I said “Oh, I’m sure we are, I remember accepting your
request.” And she said “No, we’re not.” So sure enough, because I had hidden all her
posts, it just removed her from my friend list completely, which didn’t destroy me,
but now I had to be friends again, so I went in and did it the right way.
Can be used by attorneys in civil and criminal cases. One of the best known ones is the case
that happened in New York with MySpace and it was an officer who made a lot of references
to the film “Training Day.” And he and his partner arrested somebody, and apparently
they did a lot of things that reflected this movie, one of the things that the gentleman
had posted on his page earlier in the day was that he was in a “devious” mood because
MySpace used to have you list, it would have an actual category that said “mood” and
then you could pick it, he had picked “devious.” He had made references on his page to he was
watching “Training Day” because he needed a refresher in defensive tactics and that
was all used against him in a civil case. So just consider that.
Here’s one from Maryland. This page isn’t up anymore, but when I first started doing
this, and that’s Carl Winslow from the show “Family Matters” for those of you who
are wracking your brains going “Oh, he looks really familiar.” Basically, when I was
asked to do this, it was by a lieutenant in Anne Arundel, and she said to me “I really
need something,: so I had not had a Facebook account, I had avoided Facebook. I had avoided
all things, like text on phones and all that, but I’ve had to come to today’s technology.
That said, I went to Facebook, and at the very bottom of Facebook, if you don’t have
an account, you scroll down, it’ll give you the option to find pages, or to find people,
or anything, without having an account. So I clicked on that, did a search, and typed
in the word “police.” Well, computers being what they are, they can recognize where
you’re based at, so when I sent my search out, it went out with my company’s Internet
Protocol address, which is that series of numbers we see right before our system’s
fail. And it went out with that, so Facebook knew I was in Maryland. The first one it brought
me back was the Baltimore City Police Facebook page. The second one it brought me back, which
was just listed right under it, was this one, called Instead of Blank the Police How About
You Stop Breaking the Law Retard. So I took a look at that page, because of course it
caught my interest. And I went down, I scrolled down, and on the lefthand side, you don’t
see it because I don’t have the screen capture in here, it listed administrators. And when
I clicked on each one of those, because you cannot have a page in Facebook unless you
have a Facebook account. When I clicked on the administrators, it took me to each one
of their pages, and it didn’t take me long to figure out that they were law enforcement
officers from three different agencies in Maryland. And then two other people I couldn’t
identify. I was able to verify that, and this is where I may have gotten myself into some
trouble. So basically, I had a computer that would let me access every law enforcement
officer’s name in Maryland, so I searched that. I also did an Internet search to make
sure I could verify the information. As the [database] host in Maryland, if you were to
pick up the phone and call us and say I’m trying to verify that Jennifer Beskid is a
police officer in Maryland, you would be turned over to our certification unit and they would
access the same database I did and they would tell you yes or no because that’s a matter
of public record. I also went out and did a little bit further, I searched the Internet
to see what I could find. Well, the guy who maintained the page, who was the top administrator
of the page, he worked for an agency that publishes their phone directory. So the phone
directory was online when I Googled his name. It came back with his name, his rank and who
he worked for, as well as the phone number to call him if I wanted to. So, just an FYI,
here they had set up a page, like when they set up their profiles, one was like the chief
of TGIF. They weren’t trying to highlight that they were law enforcement but it didn’t
take long to figure out that they were and I was able to do it through a public venue.
The page itself had been set up to be supportive to law enforcement because if you look for
the term Blank the Police you’ll find at least 5,000 pages, I know, I’ve looked,
all maintained by different people. But if you looked at what at the time was the wall,
it was all these comments coming in saying “Hey, this page is great, thanks, I really
appreciate the support, it’s about time somebody took a stand against these other
ones.” When I found it in December of 2009 it had 160,000 likes and what that means is
160,000 people had viewed that page, gone to the little button that says “like”
and clicked it. So you know more people also viewed that page and didn’t click it as
liking it. When I looked at it two weeks later, it had gone from 160,000 to 170,000. When
I looked at it two weeks after that, it had gone to 180,000. So the page was growing in
popularity by about 5,000 likes a week. Now, as supervisors in the room, if I have any
supervisors, as other people in the room, who think about what people put up and post,
is anything wrong with that page? I’m not going to ask you to do that, because everybody’s
entitled to their own opinion. Is there anything about that page, if it was affiliated with
your department, you would be thrilled to see?
If they put a source up there, they can, that’s not a real big issue.
Is there anything else that’s offensive? Okay, it was set up in fun, it was set up
in jest, but the way that it’s affiliated back to people, is it something you want to
be a reflection on your department, and that’s why I use this particular site. I can tell
you, after a couple of phone calls, just very innocent calls saying “are you aware this
page is up there and you may have an officer affiliated with it,” the page came down
two weeks after I found it. And I don’t think it’s back up. I search for it periodically,
and it was all done in a “hey, this is informal.” I happened to run into the supervisor of the
young man who was the main administrator and he was telling me that they had been getting
calls at their department saying “hey, you need to look at Facebook,” but they didn’t
know what they were looking for.
So, any questions about what I’ve run through. Okay, for any of you who are looking at, whose
departments are looking at policies on Social Media, this is what you need to understand.
Embrace the technology. It’s not going away. But when I say embrace the technology, think
about things like many of your officers, because I heard some questions about cell phone jamming,
we hear that a lot, because there are more cell phones in our institutions than there
are in any Verizon store that you find. And we know that. The technology is not going
away, and you can put things in place, such as you can’t carry your personal cell phone
on duty. Well, tell me how many officers are ever going to cooperate with that? If you
tell me that, I’m going to go and look for another job. I have four kids, somebody needs
to be able to reach me. Embrace the technology, it’s there. But understand in embracing
the technology all the ways that that can be used.
[Our kids reached us before there were cell phones.]
I know, but I’m on the road and I’m terrible about knowing where I’m going. I’m not
going to disagree but that’s what I rely on. Set policies that are reasonable. It’s
not that you can’t use this, it’s how are you going to use it. If I send somebody
to do surveillance someplace, and this is how they’re surveilling [mimes texting]
for the entire time that they’re there, by texting or updating their Facebook page
or their MySpace account, are they really doing what I sent them to do? Educate officers
about professional online behavior: “This is gonna come back to bite you.” And then
educate them as to why it’s gonna come back to bite you. Somebody’s going to hold that
screen shot forever and use it. Set policies that are reasonable in the context of the
work you do now and the work you will do in the future. I said to you there are search
engines that are doing facial recognition. Tineye, T-eye-en-e-why-e is one of them. Google
images is another one. If I am posting pictures all over the Internet of myself right after
graduation from police academy and seven years later I want to do undercover work and I’m
trying to work with the group I’m trying to infiltrate, and somebody in that group
starts snapping pictures, if they run those pictures through, the way that the technology
works as far as the facial recognition is based on a mathematical algorithm of the way
that the skeleton underneath my skin is structured. So it doesn’t matter if I cut my hair, gained
a couple pounds, lost a couple pounds…Okay, it’s looking for the way that the actual
shape of the skeleton or skull is structured. That’s not going to change that much. So
people need to be aware of what they’re posting. So here I am, I’m a bad guy, I’ve
snapped some pictures, I’ve run them through Tineye or any other software that’s out
there, and there’s another one coming out, I have to look the name up and give it to
you but it was out there, it was getting a lot of good press, at the end of 2009 and
in 2010, it’s gone away. And it’s a photo recognition one, but I hear that it’s just
being revamped and will probably be back. So seven years later, somebody’s running
me through one of these free apps on my iPhone, or on my SmartPhone, and here I come up in
a picture of myself having recently graduated from a police academy, of all things. And
it’s all based on the way that my eyes are set together. So, and then other things like,
you know, if you go into Internal Affairs, which I know not many people strive to do
but they do, do you really want somebody to see what you were posting a couple weeks ago,
a couple years ago, a couple months ago about some of your attitudes and beliefs. With that
said, that’s all I have for you guys today, any questions?
[Are there policies out there that are good ones that are sustained?]
One of the best that’s come out, and I try to be careful how I say this, because I know
I’m in Maryland, is Maryland State Police’s, and I can e-mail it to you if you want it,
I do have a copy of it. Minneapolis’s is actually pretty decent. There are some newer
ones that have come out and I have an entire folder full of all the policies I’ve collected
from when I researched this, so if you get my card, just send me an e-mail and when you
get back to your offices I’ll send you everything I have. But I will tell you as far as comprehensive,
Maryland State Police’s is probably one of the best that’s out there. As the software,
as the programs are changing, and what people are doing with them is changing, it may already
be outdated. Just an FYI. Any others?
[The IACP has a center for Social Media, which has a bunch of sample policies also].
Yes, thank you. I do know that, and I forget that, because I haven’t added it. I need
So IACP also has an entire resource for that and I apologize for omitting that.
[Do a lot of the policies in the U.S. address the issues of being able to use Facebook at
work and also do they include the issues of being able to bring your own device with you?]
I don’t know that I have enough research done to say one way or the other. I will tell
you that a lot of agencies are embracing Facebook. The big one that I’m hearing a lot of issues
with are the officers who take pictures with their personal phones at a crash scene or
where there’s been a fatality and those are, you know, because it’s on their personal
phone, you know agencies are looking to address that. I don’t know that enough departments
have really embraced this yet to talk to their officers about what they can bring to work
and what they can do and that many of them are just getting into Twitter feeds and Facebook
accounts and all of that themselves. I think the biggest hurdle that we’re up against,
and I know I’m not really answering your question, because I don’t know enough to
be able to say. The biggest hurdle we’re up against is that many of the supervisors
that are in their supervisory positions did not grow up with the technology. And many
of the officers who are coming in and have a couple years under their belts are more
familiar with the technology. And I think that if you’re afraid of the technology
or you won’t touch the technology or you don’t want to know what the technology can
do, you can’t set a policy to what’s out there because you don’t really understand
what can be done. And based on the response I got when I first started searching policy,
I don’t think enough departments know yet.
[What’s happening in Canada, at least with Canada Work Services and I believe other areas
of the government, is that they’re starting to realize that similar to what you said,
the young people coming in are growing up with technology, and in order to get those
people hired, they’re realizing that they have to include the availability of Facebook
and Twitter at work in order to bring those people in.]
I just sat through a field training officer forum or focus group because we’re putting
something on there for them and I listened to a supervisor say that his officer candidate
was afraid to speak to him and so he sent him texts to the phone in the car as they
were sitting beside each other. And my natural response after he mentioned it more than once
was “Does he still work for you?” But yeah, I just think we still don’t understand.
[That’s the generation]
Yep, but they keep coming in and we keep hiring them, so we have to do something about it.
Any other questions? Well, I thank you all for your time. I was here in June and it was
a wonderful experience. You have beautiful weather. You have some good sports activities
going on too, and great company. So thank you for having me back.