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Although social networks like Facebook and Twitter are designed to connect people with friends it's also become a tool for tech-savvy gangsters. They have taken much of their gang activity online.
According to the Associated Press, many gang members now use Facebook and Twitter to send messages, boast about crimes and to share intelligence about rival gangs.
As a result, law enforcement is hitting the virtual world of online social networking and gaming Web sites to find the bad guys. Police now go on line to track conversations and incriminating information from gang members' Facebook accounts.
Police have investigated gangs across California including The Crips, Bloods, Florencia 13 and MS-13 by using information posted on their social networking accounts. Police said their on line activity is publicly viewable online and some Facebook groups provide rolling commentary.
In some cases, tweets have alerted investigators to gang members who were ultimately arrested on drug and other charges.
As previously discussed, social networking information is mainly used for prosecutorial evidence and in some rare cases defense evidence.
Prosecutors have used evidence pulled from MySpace and YouTube, including rap videos taunting police with violent messages. Information stored in online profiles including photos and videos, are providing evidence in legal cases ranging from murder trials to employment lawsuits.
Police often view Facebook or MySpace pages of people to see if they are claiming gang affiliation but they say it's hard to know exactly how many gang members use social networking sites.
However, Twitter and Facebook officials say they regularly cooperate with police to supply information on account holders when presented with a search warrant.
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