Daily Management Review

Facebook’s Appeal to Protect Users Information from Search Warrants Without Informing Users Turned Down


Facebook’s Appeal to Protect Users Information from Search Warrants Without Informing Users Turned Down
While showing their concern and attempting to stall an attempt by the law enforcement agencies to gain access to information about some 381 users, there is enough doubt whether Facebook arguably the most popular social media site, would be able to ward off the attempt.
This question arose after a panel of Appellate judges ruled Facebook didn’t have legal standing to contest the warrants following search warrants issued by the Manhattan District Attorney in connection with an alleged Social Security disability fraud case.
The police has indicted 381 Facebook users and demanded that Facebook give up information about these users for investigation. The social media company contested the search warrant but failed to secure a favorable verdict.
Facebook had alleged the warrants were overly broad and that the users in question should have been notified about them.
However, according to reportsin the media, the panel of Appellate judges instructed that Facebook had to hand over access to the accounts with no notification to the users.
With the growth of users on Facebook, the law enforcement agencies have used this social media site to their advantage during investigations. A study by the LexisNexis researchers in 2012 found out that more than 70% of the 1200 law enforcement agencies in the US who were surveyed had at one point in time used the social media to help I an investigation.  
The New York Police Department have recruited dedicated police officers to scourge Facebook and other social media to investigate “youth crews.” A central part of the preparations by the police for the Manhattanville and Grant housing project arrests was Facebook. .
Social media posts that reflect any sort of antagonism toward law enforcement regularly catches the attention of the police and law enforcement agencies and the agencies do not hesitate to act aggressively.  Yasin Shearin, 16 year-old, was arrested in December last year on a felony charge of making a terroristic threat for posting an image of a gun held to a police officer’s head with a message “Let’s kill the cops.” Though the court later dropped charges against Shearin, the incident is indicative of the pattern of police using social media to harass and intimidate both minors and minorities.
It has also become a trend that investigating agencies place fake social media profiles in order to obtain evidence or information about suspects. In one such incident the Drug Enforcement Administration had to pay a settlement fee of $134,000 in January this year after Facebook sent a letter to the agency asking the agency officials to stop using fake profiles.
In this context there are many voices that demand that social media sites need ot be stricter while allowing of profiles to be put up. Citing a study from the International Association of Chiefs of Police that found 58% of 500 municipal agencies had used fake social media account to investigate cases, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has asked Facebook to formulate stricter rules for accounts that are used by law enforcement purposes.