Posted November 12, 2009 6:00 pm by with 13 comments

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624824_restrainedUsually, when we see Facebook and arrest in a story, the story is filed under The World’s Dumbest Criminals. Like the guy that made fun of his DUI charges by posting pictures of himself in a jailbird costume. Or the burglar who logged into his Facebook account at the victim’s home. Or the woman who violated a restraining order by poking her victim.

But this time, Facebook is finally saving someone’s bacon. Or, oddly enough, his pancakes. As the New York Times says,

The message on Rodney Bradford’s Facebook page, posted at 11:49 a.m. on Oct. 17, asked where his pancakes were. The words were typed from a computer in his father’s apartment in Harlem.

At the time, the sentence, written in street slang, was just another navel-gazing, cryptic Facebook status update — meaningless to anyone besides Mr. Bradford. But when Mr. Bradford, 19, was arrested the next day as a suspect in a robbery at the Farragut Houses in Brooklyn, where he lives, the words took on greater importance. They became his alibi.

One minute after his status update, someone in Brooklyn was mugged. The article isn’t exactly clear on how Bradford was named as a suspect in the mugging, but he was arrested for the crime, even though his father and step-mother both said he was with them in Harlem (and Harlem != Brooklyn, if you’re not familiar with NYC).

When Bradford’s lawyer told the Brooklyn DA about the status update, the DA’s office subpoenaed Facebook’s records to verify that he wasn’t at the scene of the crime. The IP address resolved to Bradford’s father’s home—and the charges against Bradford were dropped.

The ADA realizes that anyone with his username and password could have posted the status update, but, as Bradford’s lawyer says, “This implies a level of criminal genius that you would not expect from a young boy like this; he is not Dr. Evil.”

So it just goes to show: maybe all those pointless status updates aren’t so pointless after all.

What do you think? Can status updates (with IP records) be taken as legal alibis?

  • Anand Srinivasan

    Oh my God..I will remember to keep updating my Facebook status whenever I am at home so I am not booked for some random crime..

    • David Walker

      I think we’ll all have to remember to do that Anand, .. just in case. The status updates have taken on a whole new meaning with this episode; alibi indeed. The underlying advantages of using Social Media are beginning to emerge but I still can’t keep this horror image out of my mind: The year 2020. A beep goes off in some school somewhere and everyone immediately whips out their iphones to update their status… and then back to the lesson. Maybe I’ve been watching too much of the wrong type of movie lately :)
      .-= David Walker´s last blog ..Live Webinar – Thursday 12 November 5pm EST =-.

      • Anand Srinivasan

        LOL..There should be an app for that automatic updating so you are not caught.. 😀
        .-= Anand Srinivasan´s last blog ..Top Ten Games Websites in USA =-.

  • Prefect

    Wow, Facebook could not have determined this at all. That information should not have had any role in clearing this person.

    Now that I can commit crimes though using this as alibi, here is how I’m going to set Facebook up to update on my home computer:
    .-= Prefect´s last blog ..The Perfect Crime, the perfect alibi: My Facebook Status =-.

  • WebDojo

    Where are MY pancakes?

    Mmmm…that sounds good.. fluffy crispy panqueques.
    .-= WebDojo´s last blog ..WebDojo: Dr. Google is in the house. Video: =-.

  • TrafficColeman

    OMG! I have never heard of something like this, but I must say one thing here..

    Keep you enemies close, but keep your FaceBook friends even closer.

    Antonio Coleman ‘AKA TrafficColeman’ Signing Off
    .-= TrafficColeman´s last blog ..Get Massive FaceBook Friends in 48hrs =-.

  • Diu Thaker

    I just saved this article, I am going to show it to my mom so she would stop harassing me about facebook lol
    .-= Diu Thaker´s last blog ..DIU – The island, the beach, the waves, the sun and the fun. =-.

  • Luci

    Facebook can be used for Good as well as Evil? Brilliant! I think if status updates can be used to accuse a person then when another is innocent at the moment I don’t see why it can’t be used to clear them of a crime.
    .-= Luci´s last blog ..Caffeine launches after Christmas – How will this affect your SEO? =-.

  • Sum1

    Dr. Evil couldn’t have thought of that! LOL And no, it shouldn’t be considered a legal alibi for future cases since people could now team up and update/mug. This post gave them the idea! 😛

  • Rafael Marquez

    What does he mean by “where are my pancakes?”
    .-= Rafael Marquez´s last blog ..The duplicate content fallacy =-.

  • Social Media Commando

    Facebook — Your Get Out of Jail Free Card.

    Nice to see the social networks being used for good, as opposed to silly photos and notes about the boss.
    .-= Social Media Commando´s last blog ..tweet =-.

  • satrap

    its just amazing to see how fast social networks are becoming an influential part of our daily lives. cool and a unusual post. thanks
    .-= satrap´s last blog ..5 Powerful Secrets To Making The Most Attractive Squidoo Lens For Gaining More Traffic And Sale =-.

  • Rym

    But what if I asked someone to post an update for me from their own computer? While I was miles away from that location.