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Facebook® vs. LinkedIn®
By Art Bowker, Cybercrime Specialist
Published: 02/21/2011

Addfriends On December 7, 2010, I posted Keep it Secret…Keep it Safe: Good Advice for Corrections and Social Networking and thought I would share this recently unattended discovery about what corrections folks think is relevant to keep safe and what isn’t a problem to share.

I have a profile on a business and professional networking site, LinkedIn® (Please note this is not a plug for them and no I am not on their payroll). From time to time I try to see if there is anyone in corrections out there on the site, particularly located near me. Well I did a search for a specific term associated with corrections and rehabilitation and came up with about 164 entries in my area. Problem is the vast majority of these entries are useless. They contain names like Probation Officer, Parole Officer, or an institution’s name. No one is going to network with these profiles as you can’t tell who the hell they are. The same pattern is present throughout the nation on Linkedin®. You search for a parole officer you can get hundreds of profiles in other cities of no named profiles. Well, I wondered what if I did the same search for Facebook®. You guessed it ….almost double the entries, with names, pictures of kids, interests, locations, friends, etc.

Now to be fair Facebook® is the big dog in this comparison with about 500,000,000 users and growing to LinkedIn® with about 80,000,000. Stats But LinkedIn® has basic information for professionally sharing with other professionals. You control who sees your profile. Don’t get me wrong, you still could get in trouble on it. I am amazed at professionals who feel the need to tell folks in their network they are in route to a conference, put their DOB on it, or personal cell phone. Some folks are not shy about telling the world they are looking for a new job, something I am sure their current employer would find curious. Sure their job history and current job is listed. Additionally, folks you add to your network know your professional connections too. But there are no pictures or details about your kids or your family, unless you post them as your profile pic or put them in your resume information (BAD IDEA). It is just a different type of networking where it would appear corrections is overly cautious about telling others in the field who they are. Could someone search for you on LinkedIn®? Hell yes! So they find out where you work or worked. Unless you have a stalker that is following you from job to job, they know that already. I mean your offenders you supervise already know you are a probation or parole officer.

It could be corrections folks aren’ aware of LinkedIn® and its professional networking potential. It actually has a pretty good Group function that allows you to join specific discussion groups. For instance, I have one for Cybercrime Supervision, where folks can post questions, discussions, etc. It could also be that all those Probation/Parole Officers Profiles with no names are a lame attempt by some offenders to get folks to connect with them (I doubt it).

So corrections folks are perfectly willing to share on Facebook® very intimate details about themselves but on a site designed to help them in their jobs they become secret agents. What up with that? Hide from fellow professionals but tell the world (and your offenders) your kids are having a ball game on Friday night. Curious ain’t it!

Visit "The Three C's (Computers, Crime & Corrections)" blog by Art Bowker

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Comments:

  1. dg19713 on 02/23/2011:

    Everything is wrong with this but to some degree it is understood. For staff that are abusing and have abused their authority with offenders are one of the reasons why these rules have changed. Granted most of these offenders have done wrong but they are still men and women and their are people that abuse them in various ways just because they can. Now, when things like this continue to happen of course it is a problem so, now the offender(s) need to prove what has happened to them or is happening to other offenders, so they make it public (this is not only with offenders but in and out of prisons) hell, what the prisoners do is made public so same things just a different arena. Now, speaking about the internet sites and working in corrections I feel that most people in our field loose sight as to what kind of work we do, the type of people we work with and what we should post or not post. In dealing with murderers, rapist... all day everyday some staff just want to be normal but being normal can get us killed or a family member(s) killed because of people in our field being/becoming complacent. However, just as criminal justice people post personal information and pictures on sites they do they same on their job. They send pictures in through their email and upload it on their computers or print pictures at work and hang them on their office walls not thinking of what this man or woman may be capable of. A lot of information can be gained from a simple picture (location of an individual, where an individual frequents, of course who or what type of people they may associate with... I could go on and on but it is unfortunate, that it is going to take something bad to happen in order for criminal justice agencies to crack down on this type of behavior. As far as being on websites that offer criminal justice staff help vs. personal websites again, I feel it goes back to wanting to be normal and letting go. Well, 8+ hours a day you might as well say we are also prisoners, the only difference is we are given furloughs for a short time, so in that short time anything that does not involve our job is a relief. I hope what I have written sounds right because I have been typing this since 4 am and these words are just running together.

  2. CqCasting on 02/23/2011:

    Interesting point you bring up. Privacey should be strict for any and all involved in Law Enforcement, including Jailors and Corrections. So why is an offender allowed to file for Public Disclosure and get all the information they want on the Officers and staff that includes corrective actions, grievances or misconduct records? Use to be that information was kept private. It use to be that once one was convicted they had no rights. Now they have more rights than their victoms and the people in their charge. What's wrong with this picture.


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