Tag Archive: Facebook

Facebook’s Most Wanted: “Sie can run, but Sie can’t hide”

Facebook is used by approximately 845 million people across the world.  Individuals use Facebook, among other reasons, to keep up with friends and as a method of self-expression, but now you can add one more use to that list.

In the northern German city of Hanover, which is the capital of the German state of Lower Saxony, the social media tool is being used to catch criminals.  Six months ago, Hanover police set up a Facebook account in an effort to use the help of the public in solving cases.  The Facebook group “Polizei Hannover” with some 23 thousand friends, and with 1.6 million hits over the past month, has helped in clearing cases involving missing persons, a break-in, and auto theft.  The state’s interior minister, Uwe Schuenemann, said in a statement regarding its use of Facebook, “Our successes so far clearly show that the police must not shut themselves off from this medium.”  Saxony’s successes include clearing up a missing persons case after the suspects’ images were circulated on the Lower-Saxony Police fan page.  The use of suspects’ pictures on Facebook in Germany raises issues of great concern among data protection groups.  Their concern arrises from the fact that once outside of Europe, the European Union data protection laws don’t apply.  Governments are starting to use Facebook in novel ways to identify criminals and help to solve criminal cases.

Facebook and Politico: The New Primary

Historically, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has served as the “nation’s guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.”  The latest issue that has caught the attention of the ACLU is the use of Facebook’s  “sentiment analysis tool” which provides data specifically to the American political organization, Politico.

United States users of Facebook who mention a presidential candidate’s name, either in public or private posts, are fed through Facebook’s sentiment analysis tool do determine the winner of the “Facebook Primary.”  The ACLU argues that the data collected from users for the Facebook and Politico’s joint effort to “measure GOP candidate buzz” was gathered without the knowledge of the Facebook users.  The ACLU claims that Facebook “failed to reveal any mention of user consent anywhere in their announcement of the project and questions how Facebook decided that the U.S. users agreed that their personal communication can and should be used in this way.”

Whether or not Facebook failed to gain the consent of its United States users in using personal communication, the long-term effect of this marriage between social media and political websites, such as Politico, suggests the growing power of social media in American society. Political candidates will likely ramp up the use of programs like this in order to maximize their electability.

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