THE EDITOR, Sir:
The phenomenon of mass media has proven to be both a blessing and a burden to society. While debate is still raging, the police have broadcast their intentions to reap a harvest of intelligence-gathering from the enormous field of social-networking sites - Facebook to be specific!
Facebook is such a ripe field for bearing the kind of intelligence-gathering data that modern-day policing requires. After all, it's the place where many are unreservedly baring their thoughts, bodies, and souls.
Why then blame the police for wanting their share? Why exclude the police?
But one wonders how resourceful it was for the police to have so publicly broadcast their intentions. Imagine a team of heavily armed burglars in the process of robbing a store. They receive a cellphone call from the police saying we have intelligence that you are committing a crime, we are on our way to intercept you. We have been delayed because of the failure of our run-down service vehicle, but we will get you as soon as we find a replacement vehicle.
But let's say the police manage to get the data in its uncompromising form, having blown the whistle on themselves. What then? What will they do with it? Are the police equipped to use the data from a social-networking environment? What about the legislative framework and readiness to adjudicate? What about the use of expert witnesses?
What if one's Facebook account was hacked into or otherwise accessed? Will the police be able to always prove a case? A myriad of questions regarding implications relating to the policing of Facebook undoubtedly will flood the minds of the curious and the nervous in the days to come.
The announcement by the police to monitor social-networking environment may be considered an exercise of fatuity and/or one of ingenuity. One should bear in mind, though, that the police force has for some time been undergoing a process of modernisation.
Such long-proposed development in modernisation should not be underestimated; 'the field is indeed ripe and ready for harvesting'.