Thursday, August 16, 2012

Gloucester, VA - Friends Can Share your Facebook Profile With Government, Court Rules

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
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Federal investigators viewed the Facebook profile of an alleged gangster in the Bronx by asking his informant “friend” to show it to them. A judge ruled this was not unconstitutional because Facebook users can’t control what other people do with the information they post.

federal judge has ruled that investigators can go through your Facebook profile if one of your friends gives them permission to do so. The decision, which is part of a New York City racketeering trial, comes as courts struggle to define privacy and civil liberties in the age of social media.

In an order issued on Friday, US District Judge William Pauley III ruled that accused gangster Melvin Colon can’t rely on the Fourth Amendment to suppress Facebook evidence that led to his indictment. Colon had argued that federal investigators violated his privacy by tapping into his profile through an informant who was one of this Facebook friends.

The informant’s Facebook friendship served to open an online window onto Colon’s alleged gangster life, revealing messages he posted about violent acts and threats to rival gang members. The government used this information to obtain a search warrant for the rest of Colon’s Facebook account. The Colon information is part of a larger investigation into crack-dealing and murder in the Bronx.

Judge Pauley III’s ruling is significant because it is the latest in a series of cases that defines how and when police can search social media.

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