Using Social Media to Reveal Identities of Police Officers, Informants and Witnesses
Like with most things, social media can be a double edge sword for law enforcement. One of the downsides is that it allows criminals to alert the public about undercover police officers and informants.
To date, individuals have been prosecuted for revealing the identity of law enforcement and those who assist them. The charges range from obstruction of justice to witness tampering. A New York court (People v. Horton) recently upheld the witness tampering conviction of a defendant who outed a confidential informant.
In Horton, the defendant had been charged with selling a controlled substance. His conviction stemmed primarily from a “controlled buy” from an informant which was videotaped. Prior to his plea on the charge of selling a controlled substance, the defendant, identified the informant, uploaded a clip of the surveillance video to YouTube, and provided a link to his Facebook page. This in turn led to a Facebook discussion about the informant including comments like “snitches get stitches” and “I hope she gets what’s coming to her.”