The U.S. government knows that your Facebook profile is vast with valuable information that they would love to sink their teeth in especially for its law-breaking citizens. In fact, according to the Global Government Requests Report, there has been a reported increase in requests for FB user account information by both the government and law enforcement agencies. The report indicated that within the first six months of 2016, Facebook received a whopping 59,229 request form submission from the U.S. government reportedly to use in formal police investigations or in court proceedings.
To quote the social media giant, “Law enforcement agents and legal personnel investigating a civil or criminal issue can review our Guidelines for Law Enforcement for any pertinent information.” Facebook is required by law to ensure the safety of the people who use the platform and has consequently, stated in its guidelines that it can among other things, they can disclose information pursuant to subpoenas, court orders, including other requests pertaining criminal and civil matters if they faith belief that the response is required by law.
There are in fact, tools embedded within various social media platforms that make it possible for the police to obtain copious amounts of data about criminals (and innocents too), also such software has been used to provide cops with ability to conduct social media surveillance consequently, deliver real-time location-based intelligence during terrorism events. A 2012 survey revealed that 80% of law enforcement agents believe that social media helps solve crimes more quickly and even use the platform to investigate crimes. If the police present an emergency case and how said information can prevent harm, Facebook will share pertinent material with cops if they believe that there is indeed a risk of serious injury or death.
While Facebook assures millions of its users that it doesn’t disclose any info to governments, both U.S. and foreign governments using so-called “back doors” into users’ information, who says that these entities can’t still access user data through other means?
If you aren’t involved in criminal activities, then there’s no reason to worry as far as the government prying eyes go, what you should be more concerned about is the prevalence of hackers getting their hands on your private social media data. Nonetheless, if the idea of law enforcement accessing your FB account sounds crude, the only way to ensure complete privacy is to never share sensitive data through public networks. You can also take the following tried and tested precautions;
- Use a VPN service when accessing social media platforms through public Wi-Fi
- Use strong passwords
- Secure FB email accounts and always log out after using it on a public device
- Enable additional security features like login approvals
- Install anti-virus software on your devices
- Don’t post content on Facebook that can be accessed by law enforcement
- Hire an attorney if you feel your rights have been violated