What Could Possibly Go Wrong: NYPD Trawling Facebook, Twitter for Gun-Flashing Gang Bangers

Staged? (courtesy nydailynews.com)

The gun grabbers’ mantra: if we can save one child with more gun control, even if it means limiting law abiding Americans’ ability to save themselves or their children, it’s worth it (paraphrasing). Well how about this: if we can save one child by cops spying on citizens’ Facebook and Twitter accounts, it’s worth it. The nydailynews.com is down with that. “What’s not to ‘like’ about an innovative NYPD approach to getting guns off the streets of Brownsville?” Like. Funny. “Police in the crime-plagued Brooklyn neighborhood are confiscating more guns than any other cops in the city by tracking dimwitted gang members on Facebook and other social networking sites.” The evidence backing up that assertion is weaker than intermediate vector bosons; I suspect the picture above was staged. And how do cops ID the account holders? Never mind. The ACLU and New York Civil Liberties Union are completely cool with cops sticking their noses under the electronic tent. You?

comments

  1. avatar JoshinGA says:

    If you publish something in the public domain, your right to privacy goes out the window.

      1. avatar JMS says:

        Yuuuuuuuuuup

  2. avatar Randy Drescher says:

    No, because I would need to trust big government & thats like…trusting that the drop dead gorgeous lady who has just given me her phone number, has given me one that will actually ring,hello? hello? Randy

    1. avatar In Memphis says:

      Randy, youre doing it wrong. You have to call her as she gives you her number! You know, so its already in both your phones (shhh! to know it goes to her phone).

      1. avatar Randy Drescher says:

        If I had a cell phone IM, I didn’t quite qualify for a free obama phone, I did qualify to have my gun taken though, Randy

    2. avatar Pyratemime says:

      Of course you can trust her and the government. Because the government typically has some tell tales to warn you of big surprises in your future… much like her Adams Apple.

  3. avatar racer88 says:

    They can only snoop, if you have your privacy settings wide open to the public. Stupid is as stupid does.

    1. avatar APBTFan says:

      That’s only if facebook respects users’ privacy which they’re not exactly known for.

    2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      Uh, no, not true.

      Facebook has privacy leakage all over the place through applications. If your friends have access to your FB material and your friends run applications, those applications can siphon off your information. Your friend and you are unaware of the leakage.

      This is why I got rid of my FB account years ago. I sat down one day to really examine their data model. It is insecure from the get-go.

  4. avatar Veidt says:

    Are you “spying” on someone by reading their bumper stickers? Public social media postings are… public.

  5. avatar Ropingdown says:

    Saying “and other social networking sites” is bull. It starts there. They identify a gang member and friends via Facebook. Then they identify the cell phone numbers and spot the major call and messaging targets. These exchanges are always limited as to the number of people frequently called and messaged. In 20 minutes they can roll up some guns, because the associates and block become clear. That’s how it’s done in Philly, and I don’t doubt it’s the same in NYC. Almost left this out: They can blind message the fool’s phone to track him. They get a reply with GPS, but the message does not show up on the phone. “Is that cool or what?” Yep. Until it’s you.

    1. avatar AlphaGeek says:

      I’ve been in the mobile business a long time, and produced software for a very wide variety of handset platforms. Handset-side capability like you describe is not consistently implemented across the huge range of handsets on the market, much less on the quasi-disposable prepaid phones so in favor on the street.

      Doesn’t matter. Why? Because it is trivial to get handset location traces, point-in-time or real-time, from the mobile network operators with shockingly little judicial oversight. Sometimes none. Likewise called-number records, call durations, etc. — the only thing they seem to have qualms about doing without a proper court order is intercepting the actual content of calls, texts and emails.

      Oh, wait, the latter isn’t exactly impossible either. A CALEA intercept warrant will get the requesting agency their full Recommended Daily Allowance of voice and text communications.

      It’s more a matter of how convenient such access is these days, and whether the results will be admissible. That’s why detectives love Facebook so much, with the over sharing and the confusing privacy controls enabling them to bypass all of those inconvenient conversations with the DA and the judge to get actual court orders.

  6. avatar Mark N. says:

    It doesn’t take much to establish probable cause to get the electronic records. You have a name, and even if it is a handle, it is probably the same name by which they are known in the street, a photo ID and, with a criminal record (which most probably have), sufficient evidence to support a reasonable belief that a crime (illegal possession of a firearm) has occurred.

    1. avatar AlphaGeek says:

      I’ve had conversations with FBI special agents who were a little sketchy on even those details. In some cases I educated them as to the minimums that constituted a unique electronic identity; in others I simply declined to proceed citing insufficient info, lack of a valid court order, or similar. It all depended on how they approached our interaction, and whether they seemed educable in getting both the due process and technical details right.

  7. avatar Big B says:

    1. Any policy or tactic can be abused if not kept in check
    2. As for searching e-media for gangbangers doing illegal activity, I’m all for it as long as it doesn’t lead to number 1 above.
    3. The legal, gun owning citizenship should not turn on the police force trying to fight the real gun problem (gangs, drugs, felons, etc.) because that is in fact the “real” problem and left to their own it becomes “our” fight.

    1. avatar Chris Mallory says:

      The police force is more of a threat to me than any gang or felon. Drugs are only a problem because they are illegal. Legalize them all and cut the police forces by half.

      1. avatar Big B says:

        I wasn’t trying to imply that the gangs and felons were a direct threat to you and I but that they are the reason that we are now in our fight to keep our 2A rights, along with the schizo nut jobs who mow down a crowd.

  8. avatar Derek says:

    I don’t know how I feel about that.

    On one hand, I can see the benefit. One detective (hell, they could hire a non-cop clerk for this) could gather evidence on hundreds of perps. Also, it’s not like they’re hacking emails or texts without warrants. They’re reading public posts. I don’t know how much sympathy I have for known criminals making public posts about their criminal activity on the fvckin internet.

    On the other hand,
    I don’t like the idea of giving the .gov free reign to snoop on us.
    I also think I’d rather have a few more beat cops or detectives than a few guys facebook stalking gang members.
    You don’t have to actually take the picture to share it on FB. What, precisely, are the standards for acquiring a search/arrest warrant from someone “posting a picture of it” on FB?
    What’s the worst they’re going to catch someone doing? Illegal possession of a firearm? Some dumb ass posts pics of his MJ? Underage drinking? Somehow, I don’t imagine a judge coming down very harshly on a career criminal over any of that…

  9. avatar My Name Is Bob says:

    It’s greasy, that’s for sure…

  10. avatar Ralph says:

    Why should I worry about Facebook privacy when I’m damn sure that local and federal agents are monitoring TTAG every day of the week.

    1. avatar Evan says:

      I’ve always pretty much thought that.

      1. avatar Joke & Dagger says:

        Yeah, I can see my future mental health evaluation to keep my firearms. The Volvo driving 58yo, gray bearded PhD Psychologist with elbow patches on his tweed jacket: “Mr. Dagger, you sure spend a lot of time on Internet gun sites”. Please explain.

        1. avatar Blehtastic says:

          Hey, I dress like that a lot, and I seriously considered a volvo one time…

          Looking like a liberal can be useful sometimes.

        2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

          RF has already thoughtfully provided us with an out.

          Pshrink: “You seem to spend a lot of time on Internet gun sites. Please explain.”

          TTAGI Under Interrogation: “I confess. I’m a sex addict. I go there only to look at pictures of scantily clad women.

          Oh, and the references to the hot Israeli models.

          And sometimes cute girls with guns. Really, I’m all about the girls and not the guns.”

          Pshrink: (looking at the TTAG site)… “OK, you’re normal, you can go.”

  11. avatar Dan says:

    Public Facebook posts are, by definition, public.

    You give up the right to complain about someone “snooping” through your business when you air that business in public. Just like you can’t expect the police to not arrest you when your garage is full of a weed grow and you leave the garage door open.

    The principle of plain view applies. If the police can see evidence from somewhere that is open to the public (like public facebook posts), they can use it.

    Now, if they were twisting Facebook’s arm to get them to open up private or friends-only posts, that would be different.

    1. avatar AlphaGeek says:

      Even better, the crooks are so dumb on the average that it’s generally straightforward for the detectives to get the suspect to accept their friend request.

  12. avatar Lance says:

    Nice to see the NY gestapo attacking the 1st Amendment as well as the second. face New York PIGS want you to have no rights.

  13. avatar Thomas Paine says:

    ok. identify the pistol please. i’m stumped.

    1. avatar SGC says:

      Jennings 9mm…the prefered $99 weapon of street thugs everywhere…

    2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      Bryco Jennings model 59 in 9mm.

      Cheap, die-cast, prone to all manner of failures.

      Just say “no.” No, no, no, no, no, no.

  14. avatar SGC says:

    If some gangbanging dumbass is stupid enough to post his GAT and his dope and his personal info on Facebook (or anywhere on the internet for that matter) they deserve a black helicopter and a battering ram. Stupid people should not breed.

  15. avatar Jordan says:

    I’m a charleston resident as well. That web site was…..educational.

  16. avatar JLR says:

    If you don’t want the government to see something, don’t post it on the internet publicly. It’s not that hard to make your Facebook posts private.

    If gangbangers are dumb enough to brag about their criminal exploits publicly, I have little sympathy for them.

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