Social Confessions

I am never surprised, but always intrigued by the apparent need by the larger percentage of the population to disclose, to reveal, to make confessions. So much of this is done to near or complete strangers. Social networks have provided a global forum for confessions (disclosures) to occur. Where once a person who felt so inclined would step into a confessional or spend an hour with a psychiatrist or even Dear Abby, now tweet and text their way to perceived salvation.

So many facets of our lives are being carried along into public forums. It is becoming more difficult to avoid being recorded by cameras and other audio visual devices. We have grown accustomed to being recorded that it hardly crosses our minds anymore. The same holds true for our social networks. How much information people reveal is truly astonishing to me. If you believe that the information you reveal electronically is private, guess again. Anything you say, can, and will, be used against you ………

There is a legal principle known as the “The Voluntariness Test” which in terms of its underlying values, was introduced to evaluate and potentially bar the admission of a confession with doubtful reliability due to the practices used to obtain a confession. Even when reliability is not in question, the question is raised if offensive police practices are used to obtain a confession: or obtained under circumstances in which the defendant’s free choice was significantly impaired, even if the police did not resort to offensive practices.

In addition, if adequate Miranda (Recall the “anything you say, can, and will be used against you in a court of law”?) warnings are not given prior to a custodial interrogation; incriminating statements made by the accused are ordinarily inadmissible in the prosecution’s case in chief. A voluntary confession obtained in violation of an accused rights to adequate Miranda warnings made, however, may be used to impeach him should he testify at trial. In my studies, it is evident that the Miranda Court emphasized that there is no requirement that police stopped a person who enters a police station and states that he wishes to confess to a crime, or a person who calls the police to offer a confession or any other statement he desires to make. Volunteered statements of any kind are not barred by the Fifth Amendment and admissibility is not affected still today. It is very clear that statement not perceived by the Miranda warnings will be admissible when, for example, the defendant walks into a Police Station confesses or blurts out an admission when approached by an officer near a crime scene.

This brings me around to my point again. When I investigate computer crimes or identity theft or electronic credit card fraud, I don’t limit my hunting and gathering to just the system effected, but I troll the social networks and my business networks looking for associated clues to the perpetrators identity. Honestly, it is a rare occasion that someone is able to elude being identified and prosecuted. There are so many points of record along the electronic super-highway that dusting all of your tracks is nearly impossible. Your best bet is to get lost in the electronic crowd obscured by the other noise. The “good guys” and “bad guys” use the same tools and tactics. You better believe that I can answer many of those “secret” security questions such as “your mother’s maiden name” because she is one of your Facebook friends and she told me herself, or what high school you graduated from, or that birth date, or even that adorable pet’s name. It’s all there for harvest time.

1. The voluntariness test: