Campus Cops Track Facebook for Lawbreakers

Police have gathered intel on the cyberbeat for years
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted Apr 6, 2009 4:10 AM CDT
'I can't tell you how many fights we've been able to prevent,' said an officer assigned to a Virginia school.   (Shutter stock)

(Newser) – As teenagers embrace social networking, campus cops have started using Facebook and MySpace to prevent brawls, monitor gangs, and—in one case—identify an armed robber based on clothing he wore in his profile picture. Officers assigned to the cyberbeat regularly scour thousands of students' pages, many of which flaunt illicit behavior. "It's crazy, the things they put on there," a sheriff tells the Washington Post.

Some students and parents say the web monitoring invades privacy. But police say they're only examining what any potential employer, college admissions counselor or stranger can see. "They seem to think they're invisible," said the sheriff.