Social media has completely changed the way our society functions daily. The movement toward this digital age began with the introduction of Facebook in 2004. In a little over 11 years, Facebook has gained 1.4 billion users worldwide. A staggering 47% of all people who use the Internet are on Facebook. Whether or not you believe it is worthwhile, Facebook has become a huge part of American culture.
However, there is more to Facebook than cat videos and pictures of food. The power and diversity of Facebook can be used as a tool to help society. New Jersey State Police have found a way to use the popularity of Facebook to help them catch criminals all across the Garden State.
The New Jersey State Police Facebook page is run by Jeff Flynn, and it has over 140,000 followers. How does this translate into a practical application for the NJ police force? When Flynn posts a status about a recent case or a photo of a suspect, he has 140,000 sets of eyes to help find that person. Flynn stated “It’s sort of like a neighborhood watch. It’s just on a cyber level.”
One of the many instances in which Facebook helped to solve a case was when a woman illegally withdrew $10,000 from someone else’s bank account. Once a picture of that woman was posted on the NJ State Police Facebook page, the police were promptly bombarded with tips from their followers. These tips contributed to quickly locating this woman. Without the use of Facebook, that woman may not have been apprehended.
In addition to serious cases, Flynn also posts less serious offenses in order to keep followers interested. In this way, followers are more likely to stay abreast of the cases and to assist the police. “I try to just keep it light, and sometimes I try to do some funny hashtags just to keep people engaged and wanting to come back.”