Erie County CPS to use Facebook to investigate suspected abuse

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Erie County Child Protective Services will be turning to Facebook and other social media sites to investigate suspected abuse cases.

County Executive Mark Poloncarz announced Tuesday the agency will now allow designated employees access to social media sites to conduct a safety assessment or investigation as a part of their normal investigative procedures.

He said in a statement, “Many times alleged perpetrators of child abuse have information on a social media site which would indicate their children are not being well cared for. Designated CPS staff now has a directive that allows them to search for this type of information and use this information in their investigation, possibly leading to a court action.”

Poloncarz says the new policy dictates CPS workers can only access social media outlets in which the individual has not made any attempt to limit access to information contained therein. And employees can only search for information on social media sites concerning the child named in the report, the subject of the report, or other persons named within the report.

“The volume of information contained on social media sites is vast and growing every day so these criteria will be used to target our searches. As with any new policy, it will be evaluated to determine its level of effectiveness,” Poloncarz said.

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