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.
Stop and search has always been a friction point between police and the communities they serve. Indeed several commentators cited it as a potential contributory factor to last year’s riots.
The New York equivalent “Stop-and-Frisk” has proved equally contentious with almost 700,000 people questioned on the city’s streets last year.
However, of even more interest to me in the article was the news that the New York Civil Liberties Union had developed a mobile phone app to monitor the use of ”Stop-and-Frisk”.
I have written many times on this blog about how new technologies present new opportunities for law enforcement agencies to catch and prosecute criminals – from Smartphones that can report themselves stolen to the increasingly sophisticated police use of social media for gathering intelligence, investigating crimes and establishing evidence.
Of course, the same technologies present new opportunities for criminals too and the balance of power has shifted many times since the invention of fingerprints right up to DNA profiling and now, it would seem, the potential interception of all online communications.
But everything I have written about so far has involved the adoption of new technologies by either the police or the criminals they are trying to catch.
So it’s interesting to explore an innovation by a more neutral party.
How it works
The most important thing to understand about this app is that it is designed to be used by witnesses – not subjects – of Stop-and-Frisk.
This is particularly important. If the subject of a stop went to get his phone out of an inside pocket, it would be very easy for a police officer to assume he was reaching for a gun, with potentially tragic consequences.
The app has three main functions: record, listen and report which are explained in the short YouTube clip below:
Currently, the app is only available on Android, although it should be available for iPhone in July.
When I got a copy to test it out, I found that it had been downloaded by over 5,000 people in its first week.
It will be interesting to see what happens if the app enters into common use.
There is clearly value in ensuring that police officers in any country operate in a non-discriminatory way.
It’s also very easy to imagine how individuals who have been stopped with good reason might choose to act up to the camera, potentially igniting further problems.
I’m very interested in your views – from what ever perspective.
Please leave your comments below – there’s no need to login.
According to an old English proverb, A man is known by the company he keeps. On Facebook, some police officers are keeping company they wouldn’t otherwise keep. Some officers, the same ones who guard themselves, their families and colleagues diligently day in and day out are behaving as though they’ve forgotten they work in one of the most dangerous professions there is.
On Facebook, the tables have been turned on law officers. All those social engineering techniques police investigators do to ferret out pedophiles and gang-bangers with fake profiles in social media are also being used by cop haters to gain intelligence about cops. People who would want to harm police officers are creating profiles to look like cops, and officers are friending them in the same way they’d have a buddy over for dinner, opening the front door and saying “come on in”.
There is no telltale sign that a profile on Facebook that appears to be a police officer is not really a police officer. It’s a combination of things that gives us reason to believe a profile might be phony. But those same reasons might also be interpreted as signs of a cop trying to protect his identity. Things like vague references to one’s employer, a profile photo depicting an eagle, the flag or even Jesus, are all prevalent on these fake profiles. Look at the photo albums and there are rarely photos of real people. Instead we see images including cartoon characters, logos, random military and police photos.
One profile we know to have been fake is that of “Ron Swalows”. Have your laugh at the name and then, please take this seriously. It’s a believable cop profile because in this case, there’s a photo of a real cop in uniform.
Close inspection will show (look just under his name) that he works for “Police”. Upon clicking on that link we saw a wikipedia-looking page defining a police officer rather than a link to a department page. Facebook told me how many mutual friends we had. I emailed a couple of those friends, real friends I know in real life that are law officers. I emailed them to ask what they knew about Mr. Swalows. Their response was along the lines of “I don’t know him but he posts all the time in a group I’m in and he seems like a really nice guy”. Folks, that’s part of the ruse. Isn’t that what you do when you’re pretending to be a 15 year old hottie with cleavage who likes bad boys?
The only way we knew for certain that this profile was fake was because we saw that the photo used was that of Larry Nehasil, an officer who was gunned-down in Livonia, Michigan in January of 2011. Here’s Officer Nehasil’s profile on the Officer Down Memorial Page.
These people are learning a lot about the cops who friend them, as well as their colleagues and family members. It sure would be easy to learn an officer’s kids’ names and where they go to school or take karate lessons. I’m extremely concerned for three reasons. By friending a cop, they gain:
1. Access to a law officer’s personal information
2. Credibility to your Facebook friends so they, in turn, friend them too
3. Legitimacy and therefore, entry into private groups on Facebook, gaining valuable intelligence you really don’t want them to have
The only way to guard oneself from these predators – and they are predators – is to be absolutely certain that everyone you friend on Facebook is someone you KNOW is real. They may not be holding a gun to your head but that doesn’t mean they aren’t wishing to harm you just because you wear a uniform. It also doesn’t mean that they’re not just as dangerous as a loaded round headed in your direction. Rest assured there is no Kevlar vest to protect you on Facebook. Your only protection is not to act carelessly. You must keep your guard up just as you are trained to do on the job.
Heroes Behind The Badge is a documentary film set for release in the fall of 2012 that will feature some of the brave men and women of law enforcement who put their lives on the line, and survived, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Filmed throughout the U.S., the documentary will highlight the lives of four fallen officers and the impact their passing has had on their family members, colleagues, and their community. The film will also feature the stories of three officers who narrowly escaped their assailants and how their near-fatal encounter has affected their lives. Produced in partnership with the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF), the film will also highlight the events of National Police Week in Washington, D.C. and all the ceremonial pomp and circumstance that surrounds the event.
Bill Erfurth, a retired Lieutenant from the Miami-Dade Police Department, who served 25 years on the force, is one of the producers on the film. For Erfurth, the project is a labor of love that he believes will create awareness about what it really means to walk the thin blue line. Serving to not only educate audiences about the dangers of law enforcement, the documentary will also benefit the National Law Enforcement Memorial with 50 percent of the proceeds from the film going to the NLEOMF.
To support the cause, take a stand, and initiate a movement against police violence, the producers ask that you would help spread the word about the film throughout your communities. They also ask that you help spread the word online by liking Heroes Behind The Badge on Facebook and by following them on Twitter (@HeroesBTB), or contact them through their website to offer your support.
To pre-order Heroes Behind The Badge, visit the film’s official website: www.heroesbehindthebadge.com.