Innocent until Facebooked: Feds Snoop with Twitter, MySpace and More

innocent until facebooked feds snoop with twitter myspace and more facebook linkedinYou already knew an ill-conceived tweet, status message or photo album could cost you your job when your boss found out what you really thought of him, but as it turns out, it can also land you in jail. Although it may not come as a surprise to the tinfoil hat crowd, the U.S. federal government actively uses the likes of Facebook, MySpace and Twitter to gather evidence on criminals.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation scraped up hard proof of the Uncle Sam’s social networking habits by filing a Freedom of Information request, receiving documents it published online on Tuesday, including a 2009 training course for the IRS [PDF] and a Department of Justice presentation [PDF].

According to the presentation, social networks can be used by government workers to reveal personal communications, establish motives and personal relationships, provide location information, prove and disprove alibis, establish crime or criminal enterprise, and to witness instrumentalities or fruits of crime.

In other words, while a well-timed tweet could be used to establish that you weren’t even in town when the lawnmower was stolen, or a friendly wall post might dissolve your motive to burn down your friend’s shed, posting those photos of your cache of stolen weapons or of you wearing the jewelry you swiped in a heist last week might turn Johnny Law onto what you’ve been up to.

Besides noting what information each social network provides, the presentation describes which networks have been more cooperative than others in responding to law enforcement “emergency requests,” as well as their data retention policies. For instance, while Facebook is described as “often cooperative,” Twitter refuses to preserve or produce data without legal process.

Although the IRS training course makes it clear that workers are not to assume false identities in the pursuit of personal information, the DoJ documents paint of much vaguer picture of what is and is not legally admissible when fishing social networks for evidence. One line asks, “If agents violate terms of service, is that ‘otherwise illegal activity’?” without providing an answer

According to Marc Zwillinger, a former U.S. cybersecurity prosecutor who spoke with the Associated Press, the same rules that apply to undercover agents in the real world likely apply to them on the Web, giving them the freedom to impersonate friends and possibly even family members and spouses – which are out-of-bounds in in-person undercover work.


Latest Facebook bug exposed up to 6.8 million users’ private photos

An API bug recently left an impact on Facebook users. Though the issue has since been fixed, some of the apps on the platform had a wrongful access to consumers photos for 12 days between September 13 and September 25. 

Chinese court upholds Qualcomm's complaint that Apple infringed on two patents

Apple is following the FTC's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

Need a monitor for professional photo-editing? These are the very best

Looking for the best monitor for photo editing? You'll need to factor in brightness, color accuracy, color gamut support and more. Fortunately, we've rounded up the best ones for you, to help you make an educated purchase.

HDR monitors are beginning to have an impact. Here are the best you can buy

HDR isn't the most common of PC monitor features and is often charged at a premium, but the list of available options is growing. These are the best HDR monitors you can buy right now.

You’ll soon be able to scribble all over PDFs on your Chromebook

Chrome OS users may soon be able to doodle all over their PDF documents with the possible addition of a new feature in Chrome OS' PDF viewer. The annotation feature is expected to allow users to hand draw or write over their documents.

Canada’s winters inspired a startup to warm homes with cryptomining heat waste

Cryptomining may be the key to untold riches and the future of currency, but it’s also an environmental nightmare. Heatmine, thinks it has the answer, but it could mean bolting a mining rig onto every home and business in the country.
Virtual Reality

Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive: Prices drop, but our favorite stays the same

The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are the two big names in the virtual reality arena, but most people can only afford one. Our comparison tells you which is best when you pit the Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive.

Microsoft’s Windows 95 throwback was just an ugly sweater giveaway

Microsoft's "softwear" announcement wasn't what we had hoped for. Thursday's announcement was not the new line of wearable tech or SkiFree monster sweater we wished for. But it did deliver the 90s nostalgia we wanted.
Home Theater

Confused about LED vs. LCD TVs? Here's everything you need to know

Our LED vs. LCD TV buying guide explains why these two common types of displays are fundamentally connected, how they differ, what to look for in buying an LED TV, and what's on the horizon for TVs.

The best MacBook deals for December 2018

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.

How to connect AirPods to your MacBook

If you have new AirPods, you may be looking forward to pairing them with your MacBook. Our guide will show you exactly how to connect AirPods to MacBook, what to do if they are already paired with a device, and more.

Hitting ‘Check for updates’ in Windows 10 opts you into beta releases

Users who are careful about keeping their system updated should watch out -- Microsoft revealed this week that clicking the Check for updates button in Windows can opt you in to testing beta code.
Product Review

The Asus ZenBook 14 is a tiny notebook that gets lost in the crowd

The ZenBook 14 aims to be the smallest 14-inch notebook around, and it succeeds thanks to some tiny bezels. Performance and battery life are good, but the notebook lacks a standout feature other than size.