Social Networking Websites & Policing

After a news article was released a few weeks ago regarding the NYPD checking the online MySpace and Facebook accounts for applicants, I’ve been asked several times if the Vancouver Police Department is doing the same.  The answer is ‘sort of’.

In a clipping from The New York Post:

“The NYPD is requiring police recruits who have MySpace or Facebook pages to watch as an investigator sifts through their most private postings.  The measure is designed to weed out would-be cops who litter their Web sites with violent or explicit imagery, racist rants and any other material deemed objectionable, a law-enforcement source said.  Applicants Processing Division officers are demanding any recruit with an account log on to their pages, even if those pages are private and not accessible to the public, the source said.”

This initiative by the NYPD was the result of the department coming under criticism after inappropriate online comments and postings were made by a few officers and recruits.  Since the online scrutiny has begun, several applicants have been denied for:

  • posting explicit photos involving police uniforms
  • comments or posts containing racial slurs
  • comments admitting to gang membership
  • photos depicting the applicant sporting gang tattoos and making gang signs

 

When it comes to the Vancouver Police Department, every applicant goes through an extensive background check.  If there is a need to check an online profile, then it will be checked. 

People have to remember that the ‘internet is forever’ – whenever you introduce anything onto the web, you have to use good judgement and caution.  What you post today will still be posted years from now, and you have no expectation of privacy when a comment or photo is posted on a public site.  You do not have to be an applicant to a police agency to suffer the consequences of having innappropriate personal information available for anyone to see.

Any social networking website has to be used with common sense.  If you have any doubts as to whether or not you should post a photo or comment, then don’t.  Facebook, MySpace and Twitter can be a fun tool (or so I’m told – I don’t understand the allure of Facebook, I have this blog so I don’t MySpace, and who in the heck has time to Twitter??) if used properly, but can cause disaster if used in an inappropriate manner.

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4 Responses to "Social Networking Websites & Policing"

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