Facebook users beware: Law enforcement officials have been increasingly serving warrants to the social network giant, often gaining access to profiles without the users’ knowledge.
Reuters reported Tuesday that its review of the Westlaw legal database revealed “that since 2008, federal judges have authorized at least two dozen warrants to search individuals’ Facebook accounts. Many of the warrants requested a laundry list of personal data such as messages, status updates, links to videos and photographs, calendars of future and past events, ‘Wall postings’ and ‘rejected Friend requests.’”
The warrants reportedly often demanded a user’s “Neoprint” and “Photoprint.” This manual, which was allegedly created by Facebook to aid law enforcement, describes a Neoprint as “an expanded view of a given user profile,” and a Photoprint as “a compilation of all photos uploaded by the user that have not been deleted, along with all photos uploaded by any user which have the requested user tagged in them.”
“And because of Facebook’s inherent interconnectedness, it’s presumed that police got to see not only their targets’ information, but that of their friend groups, too,” read an article on Good.is, a progressive website. “How many times did Facebook users challenge these searches as illegal under the Fourth Amendment? Zero, but experts theorize that’s because Facebook hasn’t been letting users know when cops are tossing their online lives.”
“By law, neither Facebook nor the government is obliged to inform a user when an account is subject to a search by law enforcement, though prosecutors are required to disclose material evidence to a defendant,” Reuters noted. “Twitter and several other social-media sites have formally adopted a policy to notify users when law enforcement asks to search their profile.”