Are Police using Social Media to Monitor the Occupy Movement and Others?

CBS news has an interesting piece about how the police are using Social Media to “monitor” (their word) the activities of groups like Occupy Wall Street, citing one case where prosecutors sought to use the Twitter feed of a protestor arrested for disorderly conduct.

The article mentions a report from the International Association of Chiefs of Police that said that roughly 90% of US law enforcement agencies have used social media.

What’s interesting, though, is that it appears that a lot of the usage has nothing to do with crime, per se.  The report covers both the investigative uses of social media as well as more mundane things like creating a facebook page for police departments.  The report does say that about 71% of the agencies have used Twitter for crime investigation, but that’s a fairly loose description — and when law enforcement is tasked with crimes that take place at least partially online, it’s not surprising that some one would look into the Twitter postings of a suspect.

The implication, though, of the article is that there is a large scale pre-crime monitoring of social media by the police.  That’s not really supported by the facts…