What Police Learn About You From Your Facebook Account

The Boston Phoenix has a lengthy cover story on the murder investigation of “Craigslist Killer’ Philip Markoff. I haven’t read it yet, but it sounds like it’ll be a great read.  It includes some interesting side information about what happens when police subpoena Facebook to give up what it has on you, as relayed by The Atlantic Wire:

As part of their story, The Phoenix obtained numerous police files via a Freedom of Information Act request and discovered that the caselog included a subpoena issued to Facebook for Markoff’s profile information and Facebook’s response. In addition to the technical information like login and IP data, Facebook provided Boston police with text printouts of Markoff’s wall posts (both his wall and any conversations he had on other users’ walls), as well as paper copies of the photos he posted and photos posted by other people that he was tagged in. It was basically a full accounting of all of Markoff’s activity on the site.

Perhaps most worrying for people who aren’t currently under a police investigation is that it also included a full list of the user IDs and full names of everyone the target was friends with. That means if police subpeona the profiled a criminal and you’re “friends” with them, you’re now permanently connected to them. Does this mean you could consorting online with a known felon?

It doesn’t seem as if this particular investigation expanded to anyone beyond the main suspect, but it wouldn’t take much imagination for police to use that list to start asking Facebook for more profiles, if only to widen the dragnet.

Nothing you put online is private or secured, no matter how much you may believe it to be.

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