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Police get tool for patrolling social media

Criminals are not always the smartest people. Most don’t tip off the police by bragging about a bank robbery on YouTube, but criminals do use social media to communicate, and police are paying attention.

In a move that law enforcement officers might “like,” LexisNexis Risk Solutions’ Social Media Monitor will allow police to watch all social media channels to look for signs of criminal activity. As a new feature of the larger LexisNexis Accurint for Law Enforcement platform, Social Media Monitor lets law enforcement agencies discover risks and threats by leveraging social media. The system can target critical incidents such as gang violence, drug dealing, crimes against children and human trafficking.

The program is already being beta tested at several agencies and local police forces across the county.

According to LexisNexis, the impetus to create the program was a survey of 1,200 law enforcement officers that showed that four out of five of them research social media when pursuing cases. And when challenged, the use of social media sites as evidence for search warrants held up in court 87 percent of the time. But without a dedicated social media tool, officers are on their own when conducting investigations.

Social Media Monitor can alert officers to potential areas of concern and help them identify posts or tweets within specific geographic locations. By entering a few search terms, law enforcement personnel are provided with a social canvas within minutes, adding a virtual dimension to traditional public records data. In a recent demonstration, LexisNexis officials showed how monitoring the Twitter feeds of gang members could help them learn code words, drug drops, meeting locations and criminal trends within cities or even larger demographic areas.

Social Media Monitor is a Web-based platform with no software to install. It can work within specific geographical or jurisdictional areas and comes with a dashboard that allows officers to filter search results as needed.

The program looks to be an elegant way of searching the huge ocean of social media and could empower individual officers as well as whole groups and departments. I plan to follow-up with a full report on how the program is working once local officers have some more time with this fascinating piece of emerging technology. They may have a few success stories to share as well.

Posted by John Breeden II on Nov 08, 2013 at 10:58 AM


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