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What LEOs Must Know about New Facebook Privacy Settings

There’s good news and bad in the new Facebook policies, and much left to be seen

Facebook has made some significant changes to privacy settings. They’re rolling them out to all users over the next few days and weeks, and some of it is good news! But let’s start with the bad news.

Facebook is eliminating our ability to take ourselves out of public search. This is the checkbox that, when selected, prevented your Facebook profile from showing up in searches when the person doing the searching was using a search engine outside of Facebook.

When thinking of your personal profiles on Facebook–the ones you don’t use for police work–it might be a good idea to make a slight name change and rethink whether you want to post yourself in a profile photo.

Janita Docherty, a law enforcement professional in Australia is a leading authoring on officer safety on Facebook. She offers alternative advice as well.

“Click on your Profile picture–it will open to a larger view of the picture–under your name click on the audience icon, which is likely to be a World globe. … This will open a drop down box–change this to ‘Friends.'”

This doesn’t take it away from public view but sets it so your photo isn’t viewable as a larger image to anyone but your friends. It also prevents non-friends from seeing comments associated with it. Docherty adds, “It is imperative that police members who have a Facebook account do what they can to further protect themselves online. This action may also help safeguard the accounts of family and friends.”

There’s good news though and the best part for officer safety is that officers now have more control over photos other people post of them online. Facebook is giving us a Request and Removal tool. Within the “Photos of You” tab, Facebook is providing a direct to the poster tool to request photos be removed complete with a spot to explain why. If that doesn’t work, the same tool will allow us to remove tags of ourselves from multiple photos all at once.

Additionally, there’s a new shortcut to privacy settings. It’ll appear in the upper right corner next to “home” as shown in the image included here.

These changes will be rolling out between now and the end of the year. But, there’s more to these privacy changes. For details, see news of the changes directly from Facebook here.

This Social Media Quick Tip was previously published on LawOfficer.com.

Global Police Tweet-a-thon

Several police agencies have held tweet-a-thons or tweet-the-beat events to create awareness of police work call attention to issues. A few of us have been talking a while about holding an event where police agencies everywhere could have whatever model of tweet-a-thon they want but on the same day and time in an effort to increase visiblity even more. That date for the Global Police Tweet-a-thon has been set for March 22nd of 2013 beginning at 8 a.m. and continuing for 24 hours.

Any police agency can join and tweet any portion of the 24 hour period.

Early entries are from all over Texas and the rest of the U.S. with a few committed from Canada and the UK. Our hope is to get agencies from as many countries involved as possible.

The Mesa County Sheriff in Colorado is one of the agency’s to throw its sheriff’s hat in early. PIO Heather Benjamin explained it this way, “The Mesa County Sheriff’s Office hopes to share a small piece of Western Colorado with the world and highlight the positive aspects of law enforcement. In addition, we look forward to partnering with law enforcement globally through social media. Exciting times!”

And in Louisiana, the Chief of Police in Thibodaux said he’s promoting transparency in policing actions and furthering proactive social media integration. Chief Scott Silveri said his agency will participate in the tweet-a-thon because, “Our participation in the global tweet-a-thon is based on the hope that other agencies break from the reactive isolationist nature of traditional law enforcement, and begin realizing the benefits of sharing timely and relevant information through social media.”

To participate, just email Lauri Stevens at lauri@lawscomm.net with your agency name, contact name and email address. Then mark your calendar for March 22nd. We’ll be in touch with the hashtag to be used for the event.

Click on the flier below to download a .pdf version.

No more hiding from public search in Facebook

Facebook has again made changes with new privacy settings, which will start rolling out to accounts over the next few weeks.

One of the changes is to the Public Search option which is being removed. Facebook account holders who previously used this privacy setting will no longer have this option. This means that as your account name can be searched publicly, ANYONE, including those people who are not on Facebook, may be in a position to find you.

For Officer Safety purposes a suggestion would be to make a slight alteration to your name, so as not to become obvious in a search result, but still enough detail that is known to your friends & family. Be thoughtful to consider the Facebook terms of service (SRR), when doing this. It may also be viable that if you do not want the public to view a personal photo of you, to change your profile picture to an avatar.

The change to public search DOES NOT change who can view your profile. If you have your privacy settings in place, this will not change. For children’s accounts the public search option will remain in inactive for them until they attain the age of 18years, where it will then go public automatically.

Regarding your profile picture and cover photo. The cover photo is the large picture that spreads across your Timeline which is public view by default and cannot be changed. It is best that personal photos, especially of you or your family, are not displayed here.

The Profile picture is the smaller picture which identifies you on Facebook. Every time you post or engage in activity on Facebook this picture represents you. Ensure your profile picture is credible and not displaying anything that may be construed as offensive or detrimental to you or your workplace.

The profile picture is also public by default, however you can click into the photo and change the view, so only your friends can see the larger version of the picture. Changing the audience to friends, disallows the public to view the larger portion of the photo AND any comments or likes that accompany it.

Click on your Profile picture – it will open to a larger view of the photo – under your name and next to where the date is displayed, you will see a grey icon, (in most instances this will be a World Globe), this is the audience selector – click on this to display a drop down box – choose the Friends option.

Just to re-iterate this does not remove your profile picture from the public search view, it only prevents the public from viewing the larger version of your photo AND any comments or likes that accompany it.

Janita Docherty founder and Director of CyberActive Services is a trained Crime Prevention Executive with more than 18 years experience in the field of law and criminal investigation. Janita specialises in Facebook and Internet Safety instruction and is recognised for her work with law enforcement Units dedicated in the fields of E-Crime, Sex Crime, State Intelligence and Tactical Intelligence areas. Janita has an intricate knowledge on the workings of Facebook from a criminal intelligence perspective and is a leader in her field regarding Facebook training to Police and specialist law enforcement departments both in Australia and the United States. Janita has completed training with the Internet Crime Against Children (ICAC) Taskforce, and holds a number of Certifications, including a Diploma in Frontline Management, a full qualification in Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), is a Youth Mental Health First Aider and has been presented with a National Service Medal. She is held in high regard within social media and law enforcement domains, for her enthusiasm to educate professionals, regarding online safety and digital reputation management.

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Is there something in the water in Florida?

Or are the cops just cooler there? JK!

Just got word from the Collier County Sheriff’s Office (one of my favorite Social Media savvy agencies) about their holiday video. They just released it this week and already have tens of thousands of views.

Of course, it was Tampa Police who blew us away with their lip-sync of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” video. To follow that video they produced their own holiday vid: “Deck the Malls” a few weeks back.

All of these videos are outstanding ways to reach new audiences with a public safety message. Which leads me to wonder, what’s going on in Florida? Am I missing other great videos from law enforcement agencies elsewhere? I know several agencies in California, Texas and Massachusetts at a minimum who could be giving these law officers some friendly competition. Hmmm, maybe I need to add a new category to the ConnectedCOPS Awards. Something like “Best Public Safety Music Video”.

Happy holidays everyone. Thank you CCSO and TPD and law officers everywhere for your creativity and dedication.

Police and Social Media, a report for the Independent Police Commission of England and Wales

What appears below is the introduction to a research paper written for the Independent Police Commission of England and Wales. The IPC are due to report in 2013 and the Commission is being led by the former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Lord Stevens. Download the full paper in .pdf format here.

Introduction

With the rapid expansion of social media websites such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook it is clear that the police service needs to modernise and utilise these new methods of communicating a message to businesses and the public. The police service needs to be using these free engagement tools in order to communicate quickly and effectively whilst ensuring that they are getting the correct message out to the public that does not in anyway impede on a criminal investigation or appeal.

We have seen over the last few years and particularly within the last year the rapid increase in the number of police officers using social media to communicate and interact with the communities they serve. Neighbourhood policing teams are either using or looking at using Twitter or Facebook to provide short updates to people within their neighbourhood on what is happening where they live.

There are of course pros and cons to the police using social media, however with the right guidelines in place and the right safety nets the pros far outweigh the cons. It is particularly important for the police service to ensure no information is released via social media feeds that may well jeopardise an investigation.
Every police force within the United Kingdom is on Twitter and a majority of forces have a Facebook page which people can ‘like’. This means that the police service can get a message out far faster than releasing a press release or calling a press conference. A recent example of the police using social media to appeal for information is the abduction and suspected murder of 5 year old April Jones in Machynlleth, Wales.

It is worth remembering that social media is not a replacement tool for the police; traditional methods of communicating a message such as the print press and television need to continue to be used. Social media may be incredibly popular but not everybody understands it. Figures from 2011 show that those within the age bracket 18-24 use social media least whereas those aged between aged between 35-44 use it the most.1 Many people simply don’t understand what social media or Twitter is and it is those people and those without the internet or a Smartphone that need to be reached out to by alternative means.

Tom Scholes-Fogg

Tom Scholes-Fogg is a Policing, Politics and Current Affairs blogger, freelance writer and co-editor of ‘What next for Labour? Ideas for a new generation‘ which was published in September 2011. More information about the book is available at www.whatnextforlabour.com. He first became active in politics by doing impressions of well known politicians and others such as Tony Blair and Boris Johnson. He has held various positions within the Labour Party at branch, constituency and district level. Prior to his involvement in politics he trained as a chef with the Hilton. Tom has particular interests in policing, counter-terrorism and defence. His choice of charity is the National Police Memorial Day and the Police Memorial Trust, and he holds a qualification in Policing, Investigation and Criminology. He is currently doing some work for the Independent Police Commission which is looking at the future of policing in England and Wales.

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