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Did you know that even if you post something under a fake name, police may be able to figure out your identity? Or that people may set up fake online accounts and add people as friends to look at their profiles?
Nothing is ever completely private online, even after you delete it. Find out how posts on social networking sites can be used as evidence against you by reading the information below.
Self-incrimination is when a person says or does something that links them to an illegal activity or crime. If the police learn about what you’ve said or done, it could be used as evidence against you or the people you know. Sometimes you might not even realise that what you’re talking about is a crime. Anything you post on a social media site, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat may be used as evidence against you, even if you think it’s private, or has disappeared, or been deleted.
Here are some recent examples that made the news:
Online comments can also get you in trouble at school or at work. For example, two Sydney students who got into a fight at school and another student who recorded the fight on his cell phone were all suspended after the video was posted on YouTube.
If you are worried and want some legal help, you can contact us here.
Remember, the information you post online might be more than evidence—it might be a crime itself. See our fact sheets on:
For example, if an Intervention Order has been taken out against you for harassing another person, you’re not allowed to contact that person—online or offline. Contacting a person via a social networking site or your mobile phone can be a form of abuse.
For more information on Intervention Orders check out this website: http://www.police.sa.gov.au/sapol/services/information_requests/intervention_orders.jsp
If you are questioned or arrested by the police in relation to something you’ve posted online, you should get legal advice before you speak to police. If you are under 18, you can call the Youth Legal Service on (08) 8111 5310 or the Legal Helpline on 1300 366 424. The Helpline operates 9am – 4:30pm Monday to Friday.
Any public comments, pictures or videos you post online can be used against you. Even if you use an anonymous user name, this may not protect you. For example, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat have privacy rules that say that the personal information of its users will be given in response to legal complaints where the information is required to meet any law enforcement request.
Did you know that even if you’re careful about your privacy settings, police and others may be able to gain access to the information you post?
Police and other adults can make up fake profiles and add young people as friends. This is important to remember when accepting friend requests from people you don’t already know.
The police can also apply for a warrant to search your online accounts. If the police suspect that you or your friends have committed a crime, they can apply for a warrant to search your social networking accounts for evidence.
Search warrants may also require websites to reveal information from your private account. For example, Facebook and Twitter have privacy rules that allow police with search warrants to request information about users, even if they set their profiles to private.
Under South Australian law, police can apply for a warrant to search your device for evidence of a crime.
Schools and employers can’t apply for search warrants like the police —but that doesn’t mean that they can’t look at what you post. If you use a school or work computer to access your accounts, you have to follow their “acceptable use policy”. This policy will usually give your school or employer the right to monitor your computer use. This means they can see everything you post and all the websites you visit when you’re using a computer at your school or work.
If there is something you don’t want your school or employer to see, don’t use their computers to look at it.
Generally the police must get a warrant to search for and confiscate your device without your permission. The only times police can take your device from you without your permission or a warrant are when:
You don’t have to hand your device over to the police simply because they ask for it. It’s up to them to show you they have a reason to believe based on some factual reason that the device is stolen or is being used to commit a crime.
Did you know that even if you delete your online account, your information may still be found online?
Even if you deactivate your Facebook account, this does not mean that all your information will automatically disappear. Your pictures, posts and comments can still be available on archived or old versions of websites, or in the comments you’ve made on other people’s pages.
Even if you delete a post or picture from your social media site, it still can be retrieved. For example, removed and deleted information on Facebook may be stored in backup copies for 90 days. Keep in mind that people can also save any public photos you post online onto their personal computers and devices.
Here are some tips to help protect you when using social media sites:
If you want more information, you can contact us and get free legal advice and information here.
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