In Venezuela, Criminals, Police Turn to Facebook

Citizens fear gov. will crack down on social networking
By Jen Paton,  Newser User
Posted Nov 16, 2009 5:51 PM CST
Facebook and other social networking sites are becoming a battleground in Venezuela.   (©David Armano)

(Newser) – Update your status at your own peril in Venezuela: A pair of university students burglarized their Facebook friends' homes after collecting info on what they owned and when they wouldn't be home. Theft and other crime facilitated by social networking sites are on the rise in Venezuela, and in a country where an estimated 8,000 kidnappings took place last year, the stakes are high. But it works both ways: Police are increasingly using Facebook and similar sites to catch criminals—with a loose definition of the word.

Fears that the government will use the social networking site to crack down on marchers and protesters are not groundless. A warrant was issued for the arrest of one student who was identified though a Facebook photo as having attended an August protest that turned violent; he tells GlobalPost it's a case of mistaken identity. And when citizens took to Twitter to protest the shutdown of an independent radio station, the government called the site a “new channel for creating terror."