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Facebook Worked With the FBI to Spy on Conservatives Who Questioned 2020 Election

The company has been sending direct messages of its users to the FBI for 19 months

Facebook Worked With the FBI to Spy on Conservatives Who Questioned 2020 Election

Facebook employees have been reading users' private messages and reporting them to the FBI if they question the 2020 election or express anti-government sentiments.

A new report from the New York Post cites sources from within the U.S. Department of Justice who say someone at Facebook has red-flagged what are deemed to be “subversive” private messages over the past 19 months and transmitted them to the domestic terrorism unit at FBI headquarters in Washington, DC.

The Post spoke with multiple individuals who did not wish to be identified.

“It was done outside the legal process and without probable cause,” an anonymous source said. “Facebook provides the FBI with private conversations which are protected by the First Amendment without any subpoena.”

According to the report, the private messages are then sent to FBI field offices around the country as leads, which has resulted in the targeted Facebook users being investigated, sometimes using “covert surveillance techniques.”

All of the accounts flagged for domestic terrorism were “conservative, right-wing individuals.”

A source said:
“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.”

One source characterized the operation as “a waste of our time.”

When confronted over the allegations, Facebook first issued a denial. However, an hour later, Erica Sackin, spokesperson at Facebook’s parent company, Meta, said the company was working with the FBI to “protect people from harm.”

Sackin’s first statement read as follows:

“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 scrutinize 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 the second statement, she said:

“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.”

As of Sept. 14, the FBI would neither confirm nor deny the  specific allegations of private messages being shared by Facebook, but said that the agency maintains relationships with social media companies.

The FBI also said that it maintains an ongoing dialogue with social media platforms to enable a “quick exchange of threat information.”

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