This from FBI Journal:

Legal Digest

Social Media: Legal Challenges and
Pitfalls for Law Enforcement Agencies

By Michael T. Pettry, J.D.

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12/9/2014

Special Agent Pettry serves as a legal instructor at the FBI Academy.

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Current statistics regarding individuals’ use of social media are staggering.

[1] According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s (IACP) Center for Social Media website, Facebook users share approximately 684,478 pieces of content every minute, and the average user creates 90 pieces of content each month, including links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, and videos.[2] Each day 1 million accounts are added to Twitter, and Instagram records approximately a billion “likes” for material posted on the site.[3]

Given the thorough integration of social media into peoples’ lives and the ease with which users instantly share their thoughts, opinions, and “status” with family, friends, and strangers, not surprisingly, some users will post items that other people may find inappropriate. This becomes particularly problematic when an employee of a public safety agency posts or is depicted in such material. Because of the significant adverse effects public safety employees’ misuse of social media can have on them as witnesses, on agency operations, and on the department’s relationship with the community it serves, many police agencies have addressed their employees’ use of social media, whether proactively in the form of policy, reactively in the face of an incident, or both. A former chief of police in Smithfield, Virginia, and past president of the IACP stated, “This is something that all police chiefs around the country, if you’re not dealing with it, you better deal with it.”[4]

Some law enforcement employees, particularly those accustomed to using social media regularly to communicate with “friends” or “followers,” often post material with little or no consideration as to who may have access to it or how it may be shared. Not surprisingly, there have been a number of recent examples of the perils for officers or other department employees who “post first and think later.”

Perhaps, further complicating the issue for police agencies, because of evolving generational standards as to what constitutes private information, younger officers and other agency employees may be more inclined to share information publicly that in the past may have been communicated only to family members or close acquaintances. This may be particularly true for members of the generation known as millenials. “Accustomed to documenting their lives in real time on social-media forums like Facebook and Twitter, they are bringing their embrace of self-disclosure into the office with them.”[5] Even employees who attempt to limit the type and amount of information placed into the public domain face challenges presented by social media sites’ privacy policies that seem to be in constant flux and contain language undecipherable to the average user.[6]