Facebook spied on conservatives who questioned the 2020 election and handed over private messages to the FBI without a subpoena, according to DOJ whistleblowers.
In collaboration with the FBI, Facebook officials sent user’s private messages to the FBI in redacted form, doing so outside of the traditional legal process, New York Post columnist Miranda Devine reports.
“It was done outside the legal process and without probable cause,” an anonymous whistleblower told the NY Post.
“Facebook provides the FBI with private conversations which are protected by the First Amendment without any subpoena.”
The sources note that Facebook used the messages as leads and then subpoenaed the messages they had already seen.
Following the subpoena requests, Facebook sent gigabytes of information almost instantly.
The whistleblowers also said that the messages sent were all from “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,” one whistleblower said.
The sources told the NY Post that none of the messages sent were from “Antifa types.”
Facebook has denied the allegations.
Erica Sackin, Facebook’s parent company Meta’s spokesperson for Communications, Dangerous Organizations and Individuals, who has previously worked for both Planned Parenthood and “Obama for America,” said that Facebook interacts with the FBI to “protect people from harm.”
In her original statement responding to the allegations, Sackin 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 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.”
Just over an hour after releasing this statement, Sackin made another, unprompted remark where she said the allegations were “wrong” instead of false.
The second statement reads, “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.”
The FBI released a statement Wednesday neither confirming or denying the whistleblower allegations.
“The FBI maintains relationships with U.S. private sector entities, including social media providers,” the statement reads.
“The FBI has provided companies with foreign threat indicators to help them protect their platforms and customers from abuse by foreign malign influence actors. U.S. companies have also referred information to the FBI with investigative value relating to foreign malign influence. The FBI works closely with interagency partners, as well as state and local partners, to ensure we’re sharing information as it becomes available. This can include threat information, actionable leads, or indicators. The FBI has also established relationships with a variety of social media and technology companies and maintains an ongoing dialogue to enable a quick exchange of threat information.”
This story comes after the FBI raid of former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home last month raised increased criticism of the FBI.
Many speculate the organization uses its power to influence domestic politics.