Federal Government using FACEBOOK! — Another reason to stay away from SOCIAL NETWORKING!

March 22, 2010

Will you add me as a friend?

I know that I am the last holdout and that my people are not really feeling not having facebook. But, for those without, don’t start.  The government is watching and they will use whatever they can to get you.  Even if that means “Pretending to be your friend…”

The other amusing thing is that if I was on Facebook, I could have sent this to your account.

So, how am I going to lie without them crossed?

Break the law and your new ‘friend’ may be the FBI

Agents are browsing photos, videos, personal information — and checking aliases

By RICHARD LARDNER Associated Press

March 16, 2010, 11:06AM

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WASHINGTON  — The Feds are on Facebook. And MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter, too.

U.S. law enforcement agents are following the rest of the Internet world into popular social-networking services, going undercover with false online profiles to communicate with suspects and gather private information, according to an internal Justice Department document that offers a tantalizing glimpse of issues related to privacy and crime-fighting.

Think you know who’s behind that “friend” request? Think again. Your new “friend” just might be the FBI.

The document, obtained in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, makes clear that U.S. agents are already logging on surreptitiously to exchange messages with suspects, identify a target’s friends or relatives and browse private information such as postings, personal photographs and video clips.

Among other purposes: Investigators can check suspects’ alibis by comparing stories told to police with tweets sent at the same time about their whereabouts. Online photos from a suspicious spending spree — people posing with jewelry, guns or fancy cars — can link suspects or their friends to robberies or burglaries.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based civil liberties group, obtained the Justice Department document when it sued the agency and five others in federal court. The 33-page document underscores the importance of social networking sites to U.S. authorities. The foundation said it would publish the document on its Web site on Tuesday.

With agents going undercover, state and local police coordinate their online activities with the Secret Service, FBI and other federal agencies in a strategy known as “deconfliction” to keep out of each other’s way.

“You could really mess up someone’s investigation because you’re investigating the same person and maybe doing things that are counterproductive to what another agency is doing,” said Detective Frank Dannahey of the Rocky Hill, Conn., Police Department, a veteran of dozens of undercover cases.

Treasure trove of leads, evidence

A decade ago, agents kept watch over AOL and MSN chat rooms to nab sexual predators. But those text-only chat services are old-school compared with today’s social media, which contain mountains of personal data, photographs, videos and audio clips — a potential treasure trove of evidence for cases of violent crime, financial fraud and much more.

The Justice Department document, part of a presentation given in August by top cybercrime officials, describes the value of Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn and other services to government investigators. It does not describe in detail the boundaries for using them.

“It doesn’t really discuss any mechanisms for accountability or ensuring that government agents use those tools responsibly,” said Marcia Hoffman, a senior attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The group sued in Washington to force the government to disclose its policies for using social networking sites in investigations, data collection and surveillance.

The foundation also obtained an Internal Revenue Service document that instructs employees on how to use to use Internet tools — including social networking sites — to investigate taxpayers. The document states that IRS employees are barred from using deception or creating fake accounts to get information, a directive the group says is commendable.

Covert investigations on social-networking services are legal and governed by internal rules, according to Justice Department officials. But they would not say what those rules are.

The Justice Department document raises a legal question about a social-media bullying case in which U.S. prosecutors charged a Missouri woman with computer fraud for creating a fake MySpace account — effectively the same activity that undercover agents are doing, although for different purposes.

The woman, Lori Drew, helped create an account for a fictitious teen boy on MySpace and sent flirtatious messages to a 13-year-old neighborhood girl in his name. The girl hanged herself in October 2006, in a St. Louis suburb, after she received a message saying the world would be better without her.

A jury in California, where MySpace has its servers, convicted Drew of three misdemeanor counts of accessing computers without authorization because she was accused of violating MySpace’s rules against creating fake accounts. But last year a judge overturned the verdicts, citing the vagueness of the law.

“If agents violate terms of service, is that ‘otherwise illegal activity’?” the document asks. It doesn’t provide an answer.

Facebook’s rules, for example, specify that users “will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission.” Twitter’s rules prohibit its users from sending deceptive or false information. MySpace requires that information for accounts be “truthful and accurate.”

Just like the real world

A former U.S. cybersecurity prosecutor, Marc Zwillinger, said investigators should be able to go undercover in the online world the same way they do in the real world, even if such conduct is barred by a company’s rules. But there have to be limits, he said.

In the face-to-face world, agents can’t impersonate a suspect’s spouse, child, parent or best friend. But online, behind the guise of a social-networking account, they can.

“This new situation presents a need for careful oversight so that law enforcement does not use social networking to intrude on some of our most personal relationships,” said Zwillinger, whose firm does legal work for Yahoo and MySpace.

Undercover operations aren’t necessary if the suspect is reckless. Federal authorities nabbed a man wanted on bank fraud charges after he started posting Facebook updates about the fun he was having in Mexico.

Maxi Sopo, a native of Cameroon living in the Seattle area, apparently slipped across the border into Mexico in a rented car last year after learning that federal agents were investigating the alleged scheme. The agents initially could find no trace of him on social media sites, and they were unable to pin down his exact location in Mexico. But they kept checking and eventually found Sopo on Facebook.

While Sopo’s online profile was private, his list of friends was not. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Scoville began going through the list and was able to learn where Sopo was living. Mexican authorities arrested Sopo in September. He is awaiting extradition to the U.S.

The Justice document describes how Facebook, MySpace and Twitter have interacted with federal investigators: Facebook is “often cooperative with emergency requests,” the government said. MySpace preserves information about its users indefinitely and even stores data from deleted accounts for one year. But Twitter’s lawyers tell prosecutors they need a warrant or subpoena before the company turns over customer information, the document says.

“Will not preserve data without legal process,” the document says under the heading, “Getting Info From Twitter … the bad news.”

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

The chief security officer for MySpace, Hemanshu Nigam, said MySpace doesn’t want to be the company that stands in the way of an investigation. “That said, we also want to make sure that our users’ privacy is protected and any data that’s disclosed is done under proper legal process,” Nigam said.

MySpace requires a search warrant for private messages less than six months old, according to the company.

Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said the company has put together a handbook to help law enforcement officials understand “the proper ways to request information from Facebook to aid investigations.”

How is lying supposed to properly be used?  I cant seem to figure that one out.  The fact that they are so ready to work with the Federal Agencies should have you thinking twice about your security and freedom.

Lying is right? Right!?!?!

The Justice document includes sections about its own lawyers. For government attorneys taking cases to trial, social networks are a “valuable source of info on defense witnesses,” they said. “Knowledge is power. … Research all witnesses on social networking sites.”

But the government warned prosecutors to advise their own witnesses not to discuss cases on social media sites and to “think carefully about what they post.”

It also cautioned federal law enforcement officials to think prudently before adding judges or defense counsel as “friends” on these services.

“Social networking and the courtroom can be a dangerous combination,” the government said.

So some fools have been caught because they have been perpetrating and flaunting their lifestyle on the internet.  The things that seem to be big on facebook are the same things that get people in trouble, basically being social. That falshy lifestyle gets criminals caught up all the time….

8 Responses to “Federal Government using FACEBOOK! — Another reason to stay away from SOCIAL NETWORKING!”

  1. tophatal said

    Coansidering that the NSA already listens in on your personal conversations. I think that Facebook would be the least of your worries.

    Alan Parkins

  2. jabaria said

    Yeah dude, the Patriot Act passed back in October 2001. This is no different than cops working over witnesses, informants and using tactics and stings to take down criminals. It’s just another outlet of information (some of which are too dumb to realize and deserve to be in jail). Besides it has helped (apparently) take down some criminals and improve the crime rate somewhat (I’m guessing).

    There’s good and bad to anything and everything (including people). But most biased blogs/sites don’t ever seem to know that. How convenient.

    They’re not looking for petty thugs who ‘loiter’ or ‘eat grapes in the grocery store’ they are looking for more serious criminals (for now).

    It’s simple. Don’t break the law. And big brother has always been watching.

  3. Steve said

    Thanks Mr. Constitutional Lawyer. We already figured that out, but this blog is not really for you.

    1) Tongue in cheek joking about FACEBOOK. A few of us here use it, but I am the only holdout. So, I make jokes about things in the news. This is one of them.

    2) It’s actually different than modern tactics used to ferret out criminals and get them to confess to a crime.

    a) You are still innocent, and they are just fishing for information.

    b) they are blanket adding people IN THE HOPES THAT THEY DISCOVER SOMETHING. That is different than your scenario above

    c) Who is to say WHAT they are looking for? And why not the person who eats the grape in the store. (since that would still be shoplifting)

    3) Are you calling us biased? then you would be correct on one thing that you said. I like my rights and freedoms and will even take the time to appreciate yours.

    4) Criminals read blogs too. I am only trying to help…

    It’s simple too. Big brother has not always been watching to the level that they are watching now. Things that could have been legal that you have done in the past can trigger a probe currently. (For example a picture that shows you smoking in a cafe in Amsterdam, might/could trigger them looking at your house to see if you are smoking now, regardless of the state laws) Plus, I am okay with the guilty being caught, it is the innocents who get fucked over that you conveniently forget about.

  4. tophatal said

    Steve

    Can I use Facebook to hook myself up with some hookers the same way you can on Craigslist ? LOL,LOL,LOL !!!

    I mean in the UK , this business up , running and very successful.

    Alan Parkins

    • Steve said

      The negotiation on Facebook is much harder, from what I hear. On CL, they just openly advertise rates and such. Facebook, you gotta get befriended first…again, so I hear…lol

      • tophatal said

        Steve

        Befriended ? I was just looking for an added option as in a friend offering fringe benefits a la Reggie Bush and Kim Kardashian’s now supposed relationship ? Well now that he’s got that hot Latina Carmen Ortega down on South Beach. What’s not to like about that scenario ? He can get to tag both at the same time.

        ====================

        Alan Parkins

  5. jabaria said

    r) Don’t take things too seriously (notice what I wrote in quotes) since I don’t.

    3) Yes the technicality of using Facebook to find criminals is different than previous tactics but the idea is the same. Use what you’ve got to obtain information. (hey at least they don’t “enhance” interrogate all criminal offenses)

    r2d2) Having a picture of yourself abiding a law (assuming your picture in Amsterdam is in a regulated coffee shop) in another country won’t get you red flagged besides if you really want to get all conspiracy theorist, we have texting, email, search queries, cell phone history, open computer networks, website history, etc. so like I said if they really want to get your ass they will. And that’s information, much of which is owned and stored by private companies that “loan” it out to public agencies in times of “need”

    I’m not saying it’s a good thing, don’t get me wrong I have Facebook too but I am saying don’t blow the whistle yet. Be aware yes but that should have been obvious when people talked about employers using Facebook to check on employees or potential employees.

    Yes Big Brother has been watching and with the best technology they can obtain (probably stuff you never even dreamed of, or did dream of and had nightmares). To think otherwise is ridiculous, any facet of society throughout history where some “control” was had over people, they have always been watching whether delegated to the Gods, the Elders or the People. Just look up the Neighborhood Watch and Infraguard.

    Thanks for the constitutional lawyer comment by the way (even if you didn’t mean it, and I know you didn’t). I like my freedoms and rights too but those were given to my because I was able to breathe out of the womb and live on this Earth. I don’t need some piece of paper telling me how and why I should live my life.

    Rise to the Revolution.

    • Steve said

      So, you’re a lawyer? Or you just play on on TV? See that was the joke.

      The fact that it is the same idea, taken to a new level is the thing that the point of the discussion.

      Plus, I think that you miss the tongue in cheek look at what is a serious question about the length that the government is invading privacy. The level of social control IS the reason that you should be worried. This is what Durkheim talks about when dealing with the idea of social control.

      Just because we got jokes, doesn’t mean that we are clowning around.

      That piece of paper you are so ready to wipe your ass with might be the only thing between total tyrannical control and a life with a little privacy.

      Hope your private revolution works out…

      Thanks for stopping by. (This doesn’t mean that you have to leave, just come again)

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