Serious Social Networking

One might assume that networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter were primarily created as a platform to connect people for social purposes. That isn’t entirely inaccurate.

Whether members reside on different continents or under the same roof, social networks have an established presence in individuals’ day-to-day lives, serving as a means to maintain constant interaction, socialize with “friends,” reconnect with old acquaintances, provide up-to-the-minute updates via personal profiles and pictures, share links and even network professionally.

But the buck certainly doesn’t stop there. The function of the social network has transcended its original intent. Though it’s impossible to sum up its innumerable functions in just one column, I thought I’d jot down some of the most interesting and innovative ways networks have been used.

Here are two fascinating cases, courtesy of

In exhibit A, policemen in New Zealand actually used Facebook to catch a thief.

It started out when a burglar attempted to break into a safe at a local pub in Queenstown. It was summer, though, and in the tiny, enclosed room, the intruder buckled under the sweltering heat and removed his mask and gloves. Much to the police’s delight, the man then inadvertently looked directly into a surveillance camera before bolting out the door.

The tech-savvy cops took the camera images and posted them Facebook. In less than a day, the thief was outed by social networkers who recognized him.

In a similar incident — this one in Melbourne, Australia —…

Deanna Hartley


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