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August 3, 2006

Public Urinator Outed by Facebook, Fined by Campus Cops

There's a fascinating article on the Chicago Tribune web site about two University of Illinois students who got in trouble with campus police.  The bar-hopping friends troubles began when one of them urinated on a bush near a fraternity.  Campus police confronted them and the leaky one of the two ran from the scene.  The other claimed he didn't know the identity of the fugitive.  In the old days that would have been the end of the story.  Not today.

The second individual's cell phone rang and police talked to the caller who gave them the name of the first individual.  They went on Facebook.com and identified not only the first individual, but through profile descriptions that the two guys were best buddies.  The result was a ticket for each, one for public urination ($145) and the other for obstruction of justice ($195).  Both students were bummed by the whole thing because they were busted by Facebook.

In reality they were busted by their own statements on Facebook identifying their friendship.  Schools are warning students about the amount of detail they put in their social profiles online because predators may harvest details for identity theft or more serious criminal activity.  Students may have some idea about that, but hardly anyone thinks of this as a law enforcement tool, as if cops have no imagination.  Well, surprise, with Facebook as a public web site, police have access to it and its content.  They don't need a warrant either.  The moral of the story?  No one is going to read you Miranda rights when you decide to put up incriminating information about yourself on the web.

August 3, 2006 | Permalink


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