Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube. These are just a few of countless social media sites that are out in cyberspace these days. Users flock to them several times a day: uploading pictures and videos, checking into locations, posting statuses long and short. How long do you pause before deciding to make a move on social media? After all, they do say, once it’s on the Internet it will never truly leave.

This is music to police officers’ ears. Last year there were out-of-control, violent May Day riots downtown, resulting in expensive destruction of retail spaces. Using social media, the Seattle Police Department found five suspects and their search isn’t over, a year later. They are currently examining social media to find more. It’s easier than you may think. If police have one picture, that picture can give them a single identifying physical feature or characteristic, and they can run with that, scouring the World Wide Web for clues. A detail as small as a pair of shoes can make all the difference between identifying someone and not.

Many news websites will now post pictures of criminals and suspects and ask the public to let them know if they recognize the people in the pictures. This has often been very successful and lead to several arrests.

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