On Tuesday, Facebook provided a platform for Ohio’s Butler County Sheriff’s Office to seek suspect Andrew Marcum. Marcum was wanted in connection with a variety of crimes, including a burglary that involved safe-cracking, assault, domestic violence and abduction. Marcum, who is 21 years old, turned himself in after authorities posted a warrant for his arrest on Facebook.
Social media sites like Facebook are becoming a tool used more and more by political organizations and law enforcement agencies to interact with the broader public. This can be seen in the recent events surrounding Twitter with relation to ISIS, in which the group is calling for the assassination of Twitter employees, including co-founder Jack Dorsey, as retaliation for shutting down their Twitter accounts, which have been used for the purpose of recruiting members to the terrorist group.
Yesterday, in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the United States Congress, he used the example of Iranian leader Ali Khamenei’s tweets, which are calling for the destruction of Israel, as reason not to supply the country with stable nuclear energy. Although the use of social media in politics is not new, the use of Facebook as a platform for a sheriff’s office to pursue a suspect is rather new.
The Butler County Sheriff’s department explained that Marcum was taunting them on Facebook, so they decided to turn the social media application against the offender. It is not uncommon for police to monitor user’s Facebook accounts for information pertaining to their activity, but posting a warrant for one’s arrest is a new twist.
Although some reports indicate that Marcum did turn himself in, others suggest that tipsters, who at first were watching Marcum defend himself against the allegations, aided in leading authorities to Marcum once the warrant was posted for his arrest on Facebook.
In response to the sheriff’s online pursuit, Marcum posted on Facebook, saying, “I ain’t tripping,” explaining that those people “don’t even know me.” To this, the police replied, “If you could stop by the Sheriff’s Office, that’d be great.” County Sheriff Richard K. Jones contributed to the exchange by posting a picture of a jail cell on Twitter with a caption reading: “Hey Andrew Marcum we’ve got your room ready…” As authorities neared him, they then posted “[w]e r close to you Marcum soon u will have a new place to live. C u soon.”
After the arrest, pictures of an emotional Marcum posing for a mugshot were posted. The image included a note stating that Marcum would be off of Facebook for a while because Butler County Jail does not allow access to social media. This image received hundreds of likes on Facebook. Sheriff Jones seemed to be quite pleased with the developments on Tuesday because they led to the arrest of their suspect.
Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are being used as a platform for social interaction besides simply chatting with friends and family. These sites are becoming methods for political campaigning and law enforcement. In this case, the suspect gained viral notoriety prior to being detained. It will be interesting to watch if this trend grows.
By Joel Wickwire