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Friending, finding tax deadbeats

First it was state tax departments that were using social media to track down folks who owed money.

Now Uncle Sam is taking advantage of the information on these popular sites.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation obtained documents, via a Freedom of Information Act request it filed with the assistance of the University of California, Berkeley's Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic, that show law enforcement offices and several federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, are gathering information from social networking sites for their investigations.

Social media icons_Webtreats-mysitemyway-com Although IRS agents are limited to only accessing and using publicly available information from social networking sites, the agency has provided employees guidance on such data gathering.

The EFF has posted the 38-page IRS training document. It offers tips on how to conduct searches, locate relevant taxpayer information, narrow down and refine results and save multiple pages. The social media sites mentioned as sources are Google  Groups, FaceBook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube and Second Life.

It truly is a brave new social media world out there. In fact, even when we try to be a bit circumspect while wired, our privacy quickly vanishes online.

So we might all want to go a bit old school and remember our mothers' sage advice to not talk to strangers.

Social media icons graphic courtesy webtreats

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