Expressing ‘anti-authority’ beliefs in messages on Facebook can trigger an FBI investigation, DOJ sources told the New York Post
Facebook has been reporting users to the FBI’s domestic terrorism unit for nothing more than anti-authority sentiment, the New York Post reported on Wednesday, citing Justice Department (DOJ) sources.
“Facebook allows the FBI to access private conversations on its site without subpoena.,” the sources claimed, explaining this is done “Outside the legal process without probable cause.”
Users were able to simply express concerns about the legitimacy and results of the US 2020 election, which was sufficient to raise their flags.
Excerpts from those messages, often highlighting the “The most offensive and egregious comments are those that have been left out of context,” were offered to nearby FBI field offices as “Leads.”
Upon receiving them, the local offices could request subpoenas from their partner US attorney’s office in order to legally obtain the private messages they had already been shown by Facebook outside the legal process, the Post’s sources claimed.
According to sources, none of the FBI’s subsequent investigations found any evidence of criminal or violent activity.
“This was a complete waste of time,” one source complained, describing a “frenzy” of subpoena requests and other activity over the last 19 months aimed at backing up the claims made by the administration of President Joe Biden about the threat posed by domestic terrorism in the aftermath of the January 6 Capitol riot.
The users targeted by Facebook for this kind of surveillance were all “Gun-toting, red blooded Americans angry about the election were shooting their mouths out and discussing protests,” the source said, adding there was “There is nothing illegal, and nothing that involves violence, massacring, or assassinating anybody.”
Facebook initially called the DOJ sources’ claims “False” before releasing a second statement to the Post an hour later characterizing them as “It is wrong,” insisting the company’s relationship with the FBI was “Designed to shield people from harm” rather than to “Supply proactive” law enforcement with the names of users expressing anti-government sentiment.
“We carefully scrutinize all government requests for user information to make sure they’re legally valid and narrowly tailored and we often push back,” Erica Sackin, a spokesperson for parent company Meta, said in the statement.
The FBI admitted it receives information “Investigative Value” from social media providers and that it “To facilitate the rapid exchange of threats information, there is an ongoing dialog,” but would neither confirm nor deny the specific allegations made by the DOJ whistleblowers.