Facebook has been spying on the private messages and data of American users and reporting them to the FBI if they express anti-government or anti-authority sentiments – or question the 2020 election – according to sources within the Department of Justice, the New York Post reported.
Under the FBI collaboration operation, a Facebook employee red-flagged these supposedly subversive private messages over the past 19 months and transmitted them in redacted form to the domestic terrorism operational unit at FBI headquarters in Washington, DC, without a subpoena.
“It was done outside the legal process and without probable cause,” alleged one of the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“Facebook provides the FBI with private conversations which are protected by the First Amendment without any subpoena.”
These private messages then have been farmed out as “leads” to FBI field offices around the country, which subsequently requested subpoenas from the partner US Attorney’s Office in their district to officially obtain the private conversations that Facebook already had shown them.
But when the targeted Facebook users were investigated by agents in a local FBI field office, sometimes using covert surveillance techniques, nothing criminal or violent turned up.
“It was a waste of our time,” said one source familiar with subpoena requests lodged during a 19-month frenzy by FBI headquarters in Washington, DC, to produce the caseload to match the Biden administration’s rhetoric on domestic terrorism after January 6, 2021, Capitol riot.
Conservative right-wingers red flagged
The Facebook users whose private communications Facebook had red-flagged as domestic terrorism for the FBI were all “conservative right-wing individuals.”
“They were gun-toting, red-blooded Americans [who were] angry after the election and shooting off their mouths and talking about staging protests. There was nothing criminal, nothing about violence or massacring or assassinating anyone.
“As soon as a subpoena was requested, within an hour, Facebook sent back gigabytes of data and photos. It was ready to go. They were just waiting for that legal process so they could send it.”
Facebook denied the allegations yesterday.
In two contrasting statements sent one hour apart, Erica Sackin, a spokesperson at Facebook’s parent company, Meta, claimed Facebook’s interactions with the FBI were designed to “protect people from harm.”
In her first statement, she said: “These claims are false because they reflect a misunderstanding of how our systems protect people from harm and how we engage with law enforcement. We carefully scrutinise all government requests for user information to make sure they’re legally valid and narrowly tailored and we often push back. We respond to legal requests for information in accordance with applicable law and our terms and we provide notice to users whenever permitted.”
In a second, unprompted “updated statement,” sent 64 minutes later, Sackin altered her language to say the claims are “wrong,” not “false.”
“These claims are just wrong. The suggestion we seek out peoples’ private messages for anti-government language or questions about the validity of past elections and then proactively supply those to the FBI is plainly inaccurate and there is zero evidence to support it,” said Sackin, a DC-based crisis response expert who previously worked for Planned Parenthood and ‘Obama for America’ and now leads Facebook’s communications on “counterterrorism and dangerous organizations and individuals.”
In a statement Wednesday, the FBI neither confirmed nor denied allegations put to it about its joint operation with Facebook, which is designated as “unclassified/law enforcement sensitive.”
Facebook’s denial that it proactively provides the FBI with private user data without a subpoena or search warrant, if true, would indicate that the initial transfer has been done by a person (or persons) at the company designated as a “confidential human source” by the FBI, someone with the authority to access and search users’ private messages.
In this way, Facebook would have “plausible deniability” if questions arose about the misuse of users’ data and its employee’s confidentiality would be protected by the FBI.
“They had access to searching and they were able to pinpoint it, to identify these conversations from millions of conversations,” according to one of the DOJ sources.
“None were Antifa types”
Some of the targeted Americans had posted photos of themselves “shooting guns together and bitching about what’s happened [after the 2020 election]. A few were members of a militia but that was protected by the Second Amendment.
“They [Facebook and the FBI] were looking for conservative right-wing individuals. None were Antifa types.”
“The most frightening thing is the combined power of Big Tech colluding with the enforcement arm of the FBI,” one whistleblower said. “Google, Facebook and Twitter, these companies are globalist. They don’t have our national interest at heart.”
Unrest has been building among the rank and file across the FBI and in some parts of the DOJ for months. It came to a head after the raid last month on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida.