While sitting behind a computer screen is widely regarded as much safer than wandering the streets at night asking people for their opinions in 140 characters or less, computer crimes are becoming increasingly common. Additionally, in recent years, social media sites have even become hotbeds for crime, and police are getting wise to it.
Below you'll find five common crimes being committed on, or as a result of, social media.
1. Online Threats, Stalking, Cyberbullying
The most commonly reported and seen crimes that occur on social media involve people making threats, bullying, harassing, and stalking others online. While much of this type of activity goes unpunished, or isn't taken seriously, victims of these types of crimes frequently don't know when they can call the police. If you feel threatened by a statement made online to you, or believe a direct threat is credible, it's probably a good idea to consider calling the police.
2. Hacking and Fraud
Although logging into a friend's social media account to post an embarrassing status message may be forgivable between friends, it, technically, can be a serious crime. Additionally, creating fake accounts, or impersonation accounts, to trick people (as opposed to just remaining anonymous), can also be punished as fraud depending on the actions the fake/impersonation account holder takes.
3. Buying Illegal Things
Connecting over social media to make business connections, or buy legal goods or services may be perfectly legitimate. However, connecting over social media to buy drugs, or other regulated, controlled or banned products is probably illegal.
4. Posting Videos of Criminal Activity
As smartphone and social media technology continue to improve hand in hand, more and more criminals are posting videos of their crimes on social media. While this sounds somewhat horrifying, it really is just short-sighted as more and more police departments and prosecutors are able to rely on these videos to arrest and convict these criminals.
5. Vacation Robberies
Sadly, one common practice among burglars is to use social media to discover when a potential victim is on vacation. If your vacation status updates are publicly viewable, rather than restricted to friend groups, then potential burglars can easily see when you are going to be away for an extended period of time.