l individuals and groups use social networking as well as the way that law enforcement utilizes the same medium to attempt to stem the growth and proliferation of crime via this new and expansive medium. Furthermore, this analysis will review the ways in which law enforcement entities are using social networking to connect with and reach out to the jurisdictions and communities which they serve.
Social networking provides individuals with a way to meet, interact with, and network among an exponentially larger group of people than had previously been possible. This has allowed people to build a complex web of relationships which would otherwise not have been possible using the technology that has been traditionally available (Patrashek 2010). Imagine a situation where a criminal would like to form a link to another criminal for purposes of organized prostitution, drugs or any manner of other crime. Due to the complex nature of the links and connections that social media provides, the amount of time from origination of the idea to commit crime to the contact with a fellow accomplice can take only a few seconds. This rapid increase in the free flow of communication and its subsequent use by criminals and criminal organizations has necessitated law enforcement to become highly involved and familiar with social networking as it currently exists.
However, this involvement by law enforcement has a definite number of distinct drawbacks. The first and most obvious of these drawbacks is the overall level of privacy that users can expect when communicating via this medium. A great deal of information has recently been in the news media with relation to social networking and privacy levels, this issue is taken to a new level with the inclusion of law enforcement as a factor in the equation.