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NW3C Williamsburg, VA Outreach Training

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National White Collar Crime Center
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William and Mary Police
College of William & Mary
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Online Social Media & Criminal Investigations

(Partial in-service credit approved for Virginia law enforcement.)

There are over 300 known social networking sites on the Internet. Despite its loss in popularity in the United States, Myspace® adds 260,000 new users each day and Facebook® has over 800 million profiles.

While these are two of the better known social media sites in the United States, several others are dominant in other countries and cultures. Myspace has 27 international sites ranging from Australia to Turkey. Facebook is available in 63 languages and is in the process of being translated into another 43 languages. It has roughly the same population as the U.S. and the U.K. combined, making Facebook the third largest country by population. There are 100 million images and 60 million status updates loaded on Facebook every day.

Too often, investigators and analysts overlook or underutilize this valuable resource. Social networking sites are virtual communities. As in any large community, criminal organizations, fraud, violet crime, and victimization exist. Investigators need to understand these communities along with the tools, tricks, and techniques to prevent, track, and solve crimes.

Current trends include social networks based around live streaming video, like Stickam® and TinyChat®, and mobile social networks like Google® Latitude, Foursquare®, and Yammer®. These emergent technologies lead to risks and opportunities for law enforcement professionals that previously did not exist.

Current and future undercover officers must now face a world in which facial recognition and Internet caching make it possible to locate an online image posted years or decades before. The meshing of geolocation, social networking, and mobile devices allow officers to employ new investigative techniques not previously available.

The material presented in this course is designed for criminal intelligence analysts, special agents, and other investigators. Students with any level of familiarity with the Internet and computers, from beginning to advanced, will find this course beneficial.

This course provides students with an up-to-date understanding of how social networking sites work and how members act and interact. Students will learn what information is available on various sites and how to integrate that information into criminal investigations and criminal intelligence analysis.

NOTE: Course contains graphic content including profanity, and sexual and violent images

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