Facebook: Press 2 For Law Enforcement
I received an email last night from a well-known TV anchor wanting my input on a new Facebook issue. He’d read that when calling Facebook Headquarters, the automated attendant comes on and gives you options to reach each department, and the second option was to press 2 for “law enforcement.”
It could seem odd to many, but it’s true. If you call the Facebook Headquarters (650-543-4800) and reach the switchboard, the 1st option is “For customer support, press 1” and the second option is “For Facebook law enforcement, press 2”. Law enforcement comes ahead of business development, marketing, press, and employment verification in the list of options. When you press 2, the next message says: “This message is only for members of law enforcement. Please note that due to a very large volume of incoming calls, the current call back time is two to four business days. For a faster response, please leave your work authorized email address… A member of Facebook’s security team will email in a timely manner.” Which means that Facebook is very busy fielding calls from law enforcement.
The anchor, and the rest of us, want to know why!
Facebook receives all kinds of requests by law enforcement, as it is essentially a diary of each and every user. Don’t confuse it with a typical diary of the pre Web 2.0 era. The modern diary (or dossier, as I more commonly refer to social networking profiles) is a photo journal, video log, friendship org chart, location status, written history, browsing analyzer, that is so effective because it can be so addictive. In other words, the Facebook activity of an average user is a digital representation of that user’s identity. So, to net it out, here several reasons law enforcement officers call Facebook:
- Tracking listed sex offenders for inappropriate use of the Internet
- Civil dispute subpoenas (domestic cases, child custody, harassment, etc.)
- Evidence used in the discovery process (establishing intent, state of mind, relationships, etc.)
- Cases of libel or defamation
- Terrorist activity tracking and fundraising
- Background checks for local, regional and federal governmental positions
- Background checks on potential jurors (see tomorrow’s story about a juror who was dismissed because of a Facebook post)
This is a fascinating and under-reported aspect of social networks – they are providing an open book on people (for good and evil) that used to take investigators (and scammers) weeks or months to collect. All you really need is a subpoena, or to friend the person on whom you are collecting data.
John Sileo is an an award-winning author and keynote speaker on identity theft, internet privacy, fraud training & technology defense. John specializes in making security entertaining, so that it works. John is CEO of The Sileo Group, whose clients include the Pentagon, Visa, Homeland Security & Pfizer. John’s body of work includes appearances on 60 Minutes, Rachael Ray, Anderson Cooper & Fox Business. Contact him directly on 800.258.8076.