Criminals can also trip themselves up in less braggadocios ways.
In March 2012, a Fort Lauderdale couple exchanged private Facebook messages about how to dispose of the body of a friend they allegedly killed in their apartment, court documents said. Police charged 32-year-old James Ayers and 23-year-old Nicole Okrzesik with killing 18-year-old Juliana Mensch, whose body was found decomposing in their apartment.
On July 6, fugitive Wanda Lee Ann Podgurski was arrested in Mexico after someone tweeted “Catch me if you can” from her Twitter account a month earlier. The 60-year-old had been convicted of fraud in January in California, according to the Los Angeles Times.
A week later, a 23-year-old New Port Richey man was arrested in connection with a robbery after posting a series of Facebook comments trying to assert his innocence on his own wanted picture.
“That’s just making it easy,” Stevens said.
Even without posts from suspects, police have been using social media to crowd-source information — putting out a plea online for tips and eyewitnesses — in order to track people down, she said.
Before Facebook removed Medina’s profile at the request of police, the confession and graphic photo were widely shared on social networking sites. People have been responding to the death in the same way he published it — online.
At least three fake Facebook profiles for Medina have emerged, one with the tagline “I killed my wife, big deal.” They’ve received hundreds of likes and comments. Many have left disturbingly sarcastic comments on the listings for Medina’s books on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Curiosity about gruesome acts is human nature, but social media has allowed it to go viral, Masand noted.
“It appeals to our basic instincts,” he said. However, Tompkins cautions against blaming the messenger.
“It’s not Facebook’s fault,” Tompkins said. “It’s a marvelous tool, but like all tools it can be used badly.”