According to sources within the Department of Justice, Facebook has been spying on its users’ private messages and reporting them to the FBI if they express any anti-government or anti-authority sentiments.
As part of this operation, Facebook would flag these private messages and send them over to the FBI’s domestic terrorism unit in Washington, DC.
One anonymous source alleged that this invasion of privacy “was done outside the legal process and without probable cause.”
“Facebook provides the FBI with private conversations which are protected by the First Amendment without any subpoena,” the source added, reporting that there was no existing subpoena for these private messages.
FBI field offices repeatedly requested subpoenas from the US Attorney’s office in their district so they could legally view the private Facebook conversations, although the Bureau had already obtained and viewed them.
Some of the Facebook users tied to the private messages became the target of investigations, but nothing was turned up from any of the surveillance.
All Facebook users put under investigation were “conservative right-wing individuals.” Meanwhile, there are actual criminals in the country that the FBI was not looking into because they were wasting their time monitoring “dangerous” right-wing political discussions.
Yesterday, Facebook denied the allegations that they participated in any illegal investigation process. The global technology company released two separate statements that conflicted with one another in response to the surfaced accusations.
In the first statement, Erica Sackin, a spokesperson for Meta, Facebook’s parent company, said,
“These claims are false because they reflect a misunderstanding of how our systems protect people from harm and how we engage with law enforcement. We carefully scrutinize all government requests for user information to make sure they’re legally valid and narrowly tailored and we often push back. We responded to legal requests for information in accordance with applicable law and our terms and we provide notice to users whenever permitted.”
However, just one hour later, Sackin released a second, updated statement on the situation. She changed the gist of her initial statement from the claims about the Facebook and FBI partnership being “false,” to the claims being “wrong.”
Her second statement said,
“These claims are just wrong. The suggestion we seek out peoples’ private messages for anti-government language or questions about the validity of past elections and then proactively supply those to the FBI is plainly inaccurate and there is zero evidence to support it.”
On Wednesday, the FBI responded to some of the allegations being made against it, saying,
“The FBI maintains relationships with U.S. private sector entities, including social media providers. The FBI has provided companies with foreign threat indicators to help them protect their platforms and customers from abuse by foreign malign influence actors. U.S. companies have also referred information to the FBI with investigative value relating to foreign malign influence. The FBI works closely with interagency partners, as well as state and local partners, to ensure we’re sharing information as it becomes available. This can include threat information, actionable leads, or indicators. The FBI has also established relationships with a variety of social media and technology companies and maintains an ongoing dialogue to enable a quick exchange of threat information.”