For those of you still in the Facebook Is Utterly Useless camp, we're gonna attempt to pooh-pooh you now. That's right. Pooh-pooh with a capital P. 'Cause there ain't no arguing that Facebook is apparently good enough these days to bust you outta the slammer and clear your good name.
When police threw 19-year-old Rodney Bradford in the big house for mugging two men at gunpoint in Brooklyn on Saturday, October 17, 2009 - a crime carrying a 25-year sentence, mind you - his daddy-o turned to Facebook. He hoped to show that Bradford was actually chillin' at Dad's pad in Harlem, making fun of his pregnant, non-pancake wielding girlfriend, via his Facebook status.
Daddy-o hired the heavy hitters, who then presented the Facebook goods to the District Attorney. District Attorney Dude rang the Zuckerbergeoisie at Facebook for the documented proof that Bradford updated his account from his pop's in Harlem. Somehow that happened, and presto change-o, freedom in five steps or less!
"It all corroborated our alibis," explained attorney Robert Reuland. "The Facebook thing was really the icing on the cake. I think, ultimately, it's what prompted the DA to dismiss." Hmmm. Icing certainly is sweet, isn't it? But it's not always good for you.
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Reuland, apparently a social media connoisseur in his own right, said, "This is a 19-year-old kid. He's not a criminal genius setting up an elaborate alibi for himself. This is not the kind of thing someone would fake." But what if someone was faking it? Reuland said, "They'd do it in a lot clearer way" than the inside joke that Bradford posted: "On the phone with this fat chick... where my IHOP."
Ahem. Hello, Counselor, please approach the bench immediately. We strongly object to that nonsense you just spewed. Did you really say, "This is not the kind of thing someone would fake?" We'd like to know from what law school you procured your sham Juris Doctor, Reuland. Any institution of legal education that's teaching that brand of malarkey logic should fire each and every professor employed there.
While perhaps not a hegemon of the legal world, common sense tends to side with John Jay College of Criminal Justice lecturer Joseph A. Pollini, who said that prosecutors shouldn't have been so hasty in giving Bradford's story the thumbs up. A-ha, reason at last! "With a user name and password, anyone can input data in a Facebook page," Mr. Pollini said. "Some of the brightest people on the Internet are teenagers," he said. "They know the Internet better than a lot of people. Why? Because they use it all the time." Whaddya know. The fogey is on to the kiddos. Imagine that.
But the law's the law, friends, and people like Reuland are clearing the getaway path for you. So learn a thing or two from the whippersnappers before you hold up that grocery store or knock off your husband's lover. Update your Facebook status message before you mug, maim, or murder. Or better yet, get someone to do it for you. 'Cause hey, cases can and will be won based on "this is not the kind of thing someone would fake." And the old folks that do that little law enforcement thing will be none the wiser.