The Justice Department may get to examine the personal information of thousands of Facebook users who “liked” or interacted with a page protesting the Trump administration.
The department issued three warrants to the social media giant that would require Facebook to disclose the names and profiles of users who approved of or interacted with content on the DisruptJ20 Facebook page, owned by Emmelia Talarico. The FBI also wants access to the personal accounts of Lacy MacAuley and Legba Carrefour between Nov. 1, 2016, just days before the election, and Feb. 9, 2017, three weeks after President Donald Trump was sworn into office.
The specific page and accounts were targeted in connection to Inauguration Day protests against Trump, who was sworn in Jan. 20. The warrants would give investigators 90 days to search through personal messages connected to users’ political activity and associations as well as friend lists and everything the users searched for during the allotted window for the three accounts.
About 6,000 Facebook users “liked” the DisruptJ20 page, which was used to organize and discuss Inauguration Day protests, before Feb. 9, Talarico estimated. Under the warrant, all of the users who liked or planned to attend associated events may be handed over to the Justice Department.
The American Civil Liberties Union, representing the three Facebook users, filed a motion to quash or narrow the efforts Thursday. The ACLU called the department’s request “an unjustified invasion of privacy hearkening back to the ‘general warrants’ that the Fourth Amendment was enacted specifically to prohibit.”
Executing the warrants, according to the motion, “would chill future online communications of political activists and anyone who communicates with them, as they will learn from these searches that no Facebook privacy setting can protect them from government snooping on political and personal materials far removed from any proper law enforcement interest.”
Facebook has not disclosed whether it has or will comply with the search warrants, CNN reported.
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