Here's How Facebook Gives You Up To The Police

If you're ever involved in a serious crime, you can expect the police to subpoena your Facebook account. Here's what Facebook sends them.

The Boston Phoenix has a fascinating story up about the unusually tech-centric hunt for Craigslist Killer. In the course of reporting, the paper's reporters came across something they, and the general public, had never seen before: The full results of a Facebook subpoena.

This is what Facebook sends to the police when they (or rather, a judge) asks nicely enough (view the entire file here):

A lot of paper

Three months of Facebook data, in this case, adds up to 71 printed pages

All your wall posts and shares

This is obvious, since these are more or less public anyway. Also, the subpoena was executed before Facebook Timeline and News Feed came out. A file compiled today would probably be a lot longer (and harder to read).

All your friends (and enemies)

The file contains a list of the friends you still have as well as the ones you've deleted. Facebook, like a lot of web services, has a full memory of all your actions — the friends, the unfriends, the likes, the shares. Facebook is a million little bells that you can't unring, at least as far as police investigations go.

All your photos

Public, private and even deleted.

Your entire Facebook browsing history

When you click on someone's profile, it's logged. Other Facebook users don't know you're looking at their profiles, but Facebook itself most assuredly does. Or rather can, if the police come asking.

This is far from the first subpoena Facebook has cooperated with, just the first we've been able to look at. Here's what the site says about its policies for cooperating with law enforcement:

We work with law enforcement where appropriate and to the extent required by law to ensure the safety of the people who use Facebook. We may disclose information pursuant to subpoenas, court orders, or other requests (including criminal and civil matters) if we have a good faith belief that the response is required by law. This may include respecting requests from jurisdictions outside of the United States where we have a good faith belief that the response is required by law under the local laws in that jurisdiction, apply to users from that jurisdiction, and are consistent with generally accepted international standards.

View the entire file at the Boston Phoenix's website.



A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.