There’s no doubt that Facebook has completely revolutionized the way people interact. But there’s a dark side to the world’s love affair with social media. Criminals are finding new ways to utilize Facebook to commit new and disturbing crimes that authorities don’t necessarily know how to police. That’s why if you want to continue to enjoy social media, you should be aware of the common crimes committed on Facebook so that you can avoid becoming a victim. Here are the seven most common Facebook crimes.
Criminals have been utilizing the scam for centuries. In the Facebook world, scams are particularly effective at drawing people in by simply enticing an individual to click on a link that would interest almost anyone, such as an innocent-looking notification that you’ve won a free prize like a gift card. Then, in order to claim the prize, scammers require you to submit some information, such as a credit card number or Social Security number. This description may make it seem like scams are easy to spot, but even the most savvy social media user has to be on the lookout for illegitimate requests for information.
Cyberbullying is a common occurrence among teenagers on Facebook and one that can result in serious criminal charges if it goes far enough. Cyberbullying on Facebook has contributed to the deaths of several teens who either committed suicide or were killed by a peer. Cyberbullying that involves hacking or password and identity theft may be punishable under state and federal law. When adults engage in this kind of online behavior it is called cyber-harassment or cyberstalking.
The term “stalking” is thrown around a lot on Facebook, and it is often meant as a joke for regularly looking at someone’s profile. However, the actual act of cyberstalking is a common crime on the social networking site and can result in a serious offense. Cyberstalking typically involves harassing a person with messages, written threats, and other persistent online behavior that endangers a person’s safety. Although cyberstalking may seem like nothing more than annoying behavior, it is a legitimate cause for concern in many cases and can even lead to in-person stalking or endangerment if not treated seriously.
It doesn’t take much for a thief to find out where you live, go to school, work, or hang out if you make that information readily available on Facebook. If you use Facebook’s check-in or Google Maps feature, then you could be in a heap of trouble if a robber is paying attention. This person isn’t always a complete stranger either; they may be an old acquaintance or someone else you’d never expect to come rob you.
With the large amount of personal information swarming around Facebook these days, it has become fairly easy for criminals to steal users’ identities. Hackers often break into users’ e-mails and make fake Facebook accounts. From there they can access personal and bank information and cause havoc to your sense of security. Protect yourself from identity theft on Facebook by keeping your profile very secure and free of personal information that a criminal would love to have.
An individual commits the crime of defamation when they communicate a false statement to a third party that paints another individual or entity in a negative light. Facebook makes communicating defamatory statements frighteningly easy, and the exposure Facebook provides makes it more likely that businesses or individuals will be harmed by the defamatory statement, and thus more likely to pursue legal remedies. Be careful what you say on Facebook; you may be committing a crime without even knowing it.
7. HarassmentHarassment happens all the time on Facebook. From sexual harassment to assault threats, there has been a significant increase in the number of harassment cases happening on Facebook. It’s not uncommon for sex offenders and sexual predators to prey on unsuspecting victims on Facebook and even pose as a teen or college student. Harassing messages, inappropriate comments, and other persistent behaviors should be reported to Facebook and your local police station.