Facebook secretly hands over private user data to law enforcement


Wikileaks founder Julian Assange once called Facebook “the most appalling spying machine ever invented.” And based on a new report from Reuters, it seems as though he’s 100 percent right.

An extensive review of the Westlaw legal database by Reuters reveals that law-enforcement agencies are increasingly obtaining search warrants to snoop into users’ Facebook accounts, often without the users — or their Facebook friends — ever knowing that authorities had combed through their accounts.

Since 2008, federal judges have granted at least two dozen warrants to search users’ accounts, 11 of which were granted in 2011 alone. The agencies most often involved are the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). Reuters reports that “the investigations range from arson to rape to terrorism.”

The information given up by Facebook to authorities includes the full range of activities: Wall posts, messages, status updates, links, videos, photos, calendar items and even rejected friend requests. This data comes in the form of “Neoprints” (a user’s total textual profile and activities) and “Photoprints” (snapshots of all photos a user has uploaded). Contact details, IP logs and group members are also included.

The terms of these warrants are posted in manuals, which appear to be created by Facebook. (An example of one of these manuals can be found here.) A Facebook representative would neither confirm nor deny whether the company created the manuals.

In none of the cases uncovered by Reuters did anyone challenge the legality of the searches, which could potentially violate citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights, the protection against unlawful search and seizure. The lack of challenges are likely because Facebook did not inform the users that their information was being accessed by law enforcement. This contrasts with Twitter’s policy to inform users when authorities have requested their private account information.

Facebook Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan tells Reuters that the social network regularly pushes back against police “fishing expeditions.” He would not, however, comment on the number of searches that the company had allowed law enforcement to conduct.


New Hampshire judge tells Amazon to turn over Echo recordings in murder case

A New Hampshire judge has directed Amazon to turn over Echo recordings to help solve a double homicide. The prosecution believes the device may have recorded conversations, or even the crime itself.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this fall with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Castle Rock'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we've put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in November, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to ‘Dracula’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.

Hackers sold 120 million private Facebook messages, report says

Up to 120 million private Facebook messages were being sold online by hackers this fall. The breach was first discovered in September and the messages were obtained through unnamed rogue browser extensions. 

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. You're in luck -- we've gathered 23 of the best subreddits to help…
Social Media

Facebook opens pop-up stores at Macy’s, but they’re not selling the Portal

Facebook has opened pop-up stores at multiple Macy's, though they're not selling Facebook's new Portal device. Instead, they're showcasing small businesses and brands that are already popular on Facebook and Instagram.
Social Media

Facebook Messenger will soon let you delete sent messages

A feature coming to Facebook Messenger will let you delete a message for up to 10 minutes after you send it. The company promised the feature months ago and this week said it really is on its way ... "soon."
Social Media

Pinterest brings followed content front and center with full-width Pin format

Want to see Pinterest recommendations, or just Pins from followed users? Now Pinners can choose with a Pinterest Following feed update. The secondary feed eliminates recommendation and is (almost) chronological.
Smart Home

Facebook's Alexa-enabled video-calling devices begin shipping

Facebook's Portal devices are video smart speakers with Alexa voice assistants built in that allow you to make calls. The 15-inch Portal+ model features a pivoting camera that follows you around the room as you speak.
Social Media

Vine fans, your favorite video-looping app is coming back as Byte

Vine fans were left disappointed in 2017 when its owner, Twitter, pulled the plug on the video-looping app. But now one of its co-founders has promised that a new version of the app, called Byte, is coming soon.

Social media use increases depression and anxiety, experiment shows

A study has shown for the first time a causal link between social media use and lower rates of well-being. Students who limited their social media usage to 30 minutes a day showed significant decreases in anxiety and fear of missing out.
Social Media

Twitter boss hints that an edit button for tweets may finally be on its way

Twitter has been talking for years about launching an edit button for tweets, but it still hasn't landed. This week, company boss Jack Dorsey addressed the matter again, describing a quick-edit button as "achievable."
Social Media

‘Superwoman’ YouTuber Lilly Singh taking a break for her mental health

Claiming to be "mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted," popular YouTuber Lilly Singh has told her millions of fans she's taking a break from making videos in order to recuperate.