US Government Can Legally Access Your Facebook Data (And Now We Know How)

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Alice Salles via,

The end of the year is approaching, and data concerning government abuses of power has begun pouring in.

According to Facebook’s Global Government Requests Report, government’s requests for Facebook account data rose 27 percent in the first half of 2016.

Facebook’s official announcement explained that requests for user data went from 46,710 in the last half of 2015 to 59,229 in the first half of 2016. At least 56 percent of these requests, Facebook added, “contained a non-disclosure order that prohibited us from notifying the user.

Law enforcement agencies from across the globe, Facebook continued, often send restriction requests demanding Facebook remove content from its forums. Fortunately, these requests dropped substantially this year, from 55,827 in the last half of 2015 to 9,663 in 2016 — an 87 percent drop. Most of the 2015 requests revolved aroundFrench content restrictions of a single image from the November 13, 2015 terrorist attacks.”

Additionally, Facebook used its report to disclose for the first time what the company does when law enforcement agencies request “snapshots” of a user account that might be relevant to law enforcement for undisclosed reasons.

These “preservation requests,” as they are known, are requests to “preserve data pending receipt of formal legal process.” They are often processed by the social media website as snapshots, which are preserved temporarily. According to Facebook, the company does notdisclose any of the preserved records unless and until we receive formal and valid legal process.” In the first half of 2016, Facebook received 38,675 preservation requests regarding 67,129 accounts, a staggering number of requests.

Further, Facebook insisted it does not give law enforcement any “back doors” to user information. Adding that requests are only fulfilled if they meet legal requirements or “legal sufficiency,” as Facebook puts it, they claim to “apply a rigorous approach to every government request [they] receive to protect the information of the people who use [their] services,” the company added. But this rigorous approach is not rigorous enough if “reforms” designed to avoid privacy overreach in America simply don’t go far enough.

Take the USA Freedom Act, for instance. The 2015 law was once supported by libertarian-leaning congressmen like Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI). Later, however, Amash criticized the bill after changes giving government more power were adopted.

Mentioning the new rule by name, Facebook added that “as a result of transparency reforms introduced this year by the USA Freedom Act, our report also contains additional information concerning National Security Letters (NSLs).” NSLs are “extraordinary search procedures” that give the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) the power to “compel the disclosure of customer records held by banks, telephone companies, Internet Service Providers, and others.” They are extraordinary because detailed information can be surrendered without proper oversight, an issue that has led to countless cases of abuse.

While NSLs are still being implemented, the gag order related to the procedure has changed. Now, “the government goes to court to justify the gag order only if an NSL recipient notifies the FBI of its desire for judicial review in the first place.” While the government bears “the burden of immediately going to court and proving its necessity,” NSLs give the FBI the power to bypass this important step.

Explaining that “the government lifted a gag requirement on one NSL issued in the second half of 2015,” the company decided to publish it. It’s unclear sure how many other NSLs Facebook has received.

Facebook may promise to “apply a rigorous approach to every government request” that comes its way, but rigor may only be practiced within the boundaries of U.S. law. If the law fails to protect the user’s privacy by allowing agencies to use “extraordinary” procedures, your data is never protected, no matter how well-meaning companies like Facebook claim to be.

According to Facebook, other government requests concerning “imminent risk of serious injury or death” are also granted on a regular basis. At least 3,016 of these requests were made in the first half of 2016. They targeted 4,192 accounts.

Search warrants were produced in only 13,742 cases of request for data while only 781 others were backed by court orders.

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Skiprrrdog's picture

Used to be, 'don't do the crime if you can't do the time'... now its,

'don't do the FeceBook if you can't do the time'...

BabaLooey's picture



LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD's picture
LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD (not verified) BabaLooey Dec 27, 2016 9:28 AM

Seriously.  Who uses Facebook for anything?

HenryHall's picture

>> Seriously. Who uses Facebook for anything?

Fools do. You only have to examine who the founders of the company were to know they are up to mischief. And there is no shortage of fools. You don't have to be one of them, it's strictly voluntary.

JackT's picture

At some point those without an account will be under more suspicion than those being actively listened to/watched

Government needs you to pay taxes's picture

Perhaps the mark of the beast is having a facebook account.

HopefulCynical's picture


I've had an account since '10. I don't post manifestos or bomb schematics. I use it to keep in touch with people I've known for decades.

Also, there's this.

Umh's picture

That is great, now what your friends, family and casual acquaintances post can trigger problems for you.

NidStyles's picture

Just remember, if they can lie about what they commonly access regarding your private information, they can lie about what they can post under your profile and account.


Bay of Pigs's picture

I post whale pictures shot here in Maui. 0h, and lots of articles from a conspiracy loving fringe blog called Zero Hedge.

That all good, right? Seriously do you all think I care what my gov't thinks of me posting on FarceBook? Laughable. Live Free or Die.

NidStyles's picture

Sure, you don't care until they use it to frame you for terrorism.

Bay of Pigs's picture

Dude, you have posted some very extreme comments here in the past. You're on the list too. Get over it. I don't care or worry about useless internet shit.

beemasters's picture

This is was posted two years ago, but still applicable.

There are better alternatives out there. FYI, it's never about "conspiracy theory", but your right to privacy. But hey, if FB is something you can't live without, knock yourself out.

Oh, just remember you are part of the problem that they are abusing the system every time you post your beautiful Maui photos that no one really cares to see but just have to upvote them in case you are hurt they don't.

Bay of Pigs's picture

You're insane. I post them because my friends and family like to see them. No other reason. There is no privacy on the internet dumbshit.

OverTheHedge's picture

All digital evidence can be created retrospectively, with falsified date-stamps etc. If they want to prove you are a terrorist, they can happily create a Facebook account for you, with 30 years history of stirring up trouble and encouraging violence. Never mind that Facebook isn't 30 years old.


At some point, someone is going to use this fact as their defence, and then digital evidence will be irrelevant, which will stop all this nonsense. Or not....


Manthong's picture

..never did a twat.. twit...  Face'F.....

none of that crap.

..don't even look at the goog anymoar.

it's just about all garbage

Holy hand grenade of Antioch's picture
Holy hand grenade of Antioch (not verified) Manthong Dec 27, 2016 12:53 PM

Nuke the gay whales (who have FACEBOOK accounts)!

Mr. Universe's picture

What hope do we have in a world where people are posting their own "fake news" stories in hopes to gain $$. It isn't a rare occurance anymore, the latest being a family accusing of someone using the N-word against them and set up a go fund me to collect for their pain. Fake, made up, fraud.

Manthong's picture

Well, the good news is that they now have different perspectives of all your family’s faces 85 ways to Sunday.

Total, complete absolute supreme omniscient awareness with thousands of acres of memory is not about thwarting terrorists

It's about controlling your family.

Orwell would be very proud.

DaveyJones's picture

one of my favorite cartoons is a kid talking to the empty swing beside her: "My mom has make believe friends too but they're all on Facebook"

noless's picture

Finally someone else is getting on this bandwagon. 

You might not ever use Facebook, so who have all your relatives been taking to?


scrappy's picture

The problem is in the fine print, THEY OWN YOUR DATA.

Use your imagination, they sell that info, criminals can subscribe to data brokers too.

I suggest you consider migrating to a P2P Social Media Solution. I think it can communicate with FB.

Regarding this subject, it's more than Facebook we should be concerned with.

How protected are you right now?

Test Yourself right now if you like.

Ditch Google over time if you can. is ok.

P2P search you control is better.

Techno-Fascism is your reality Neo.

I suggest, you cut - paste - save & share this.

My Christmas gift to our fine community.

UncleChopChop's picture

i seriously doubt whether cat-meme's and surveys about 'what character from star wars are you??' are waking up the nation. any attempt at serious discussion gets immediately drowned out by lowest-common-denominator-political-correctness. the openness of the forum has led to enormous self-censorship, which has allowed all sorts of nonsense (SJW anyone?) to breed and multiply.

add onto that the fact that they use their 'news streams' to only show people selectively what they want (including YOUR posts) and it's just another form of control. that you think a clever gif with john hamm smiling means you arent being controlled is a sad irony.

DingleBarryObummer's picture

I think the same thing.  Smart phones w/ facebook.  Sounds pretty eerie.  You get closed out of some (maybe a lot of) business and social networking without one.  Let's watch for it to get more extreme, but common sense tells us the trend is for MOAR control/dominance.

techpriest's picture

In my case, I use it on the other side - I am doing a little business by helping a nutrition study recruit people via Facebook.

Among other things, FB can let me advertise specifically to people within X miles of a testing site, who have a medical condition as determined by their browsing and ad click behavior, or who have interest in particular products. Then you try a few variations on your language and FB will tell you which one is performing better. Recently they were able to start determining who lives in a given area as opposed to passing through, so you can target folks on a road trip where your wife or child is on FB while you are driving.

So in other words, I'm figuring out how to make the Facebook tracking work for me while it's around.

Four chan's picture

pokemon has an even creepier begining. there are reasons all the training gyms are located at churches.

Skateboarder's picture

As a "90s kid," I grew up with the first generation of Pokemon teevee shows and games. The content of the first season of the teevee show was pretty good and taught decent values. The "Pokemon Red" game is a classic with one of the best sounding 8-bit soundtracks - can still appreciate it almost 20 years later.

It got watered down as soon as they started doing the second-generation versions of the show and game, etc., as happens with all things, but the first one was good. Or maybe I'm just biased because I liked it as a kid.  :-)

Oh how they fvcked with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles over the years... Righteous dudes they were in the original comics and teevee show.


But do tell about that creepy beginning - would be some interesting perspective to have.

Manthong's picture a child of the ‘50s..

I grew up with Donna Reed, Ozzie and Harriet and the Beaver.. (not the one you filthy bastards are thinking about).

I would not trade it for 30 extra years of yute today.

I spent a lot of time playing outside in the sun and the snow.

Dr. Thomas Sowell feels pretty much the same way, but he’s got about 10 years on me.


and oh.. not a fogie.. I made a fair amount of money managing web enabled systems management.


Skateboarder's picture

Didn't get my first cell phone till I was of voting age. Although I was among the first group of yutes to be online chatting on IRC, and AOL after that, there was a clear separation of screen and play. Grew up in the last generation to go outside and play everyday... the last generation of skaters who skated the streets like our brothers before (you don't see packs of little hooligans doing that anymore). No parental supervision - just went out with 50c (used to be 35c and 25c before that... damn you Pac Bell for eating into my meager savings) to call home, and some bus change on top.

Although I envy my elders (you) for the greater degrees of freedom they enjoyed, I sure am glad to not have been born "not too late." Feel bad for the kids of today, chained to their iPoops from day one.  :-(

Manthong's picture


text based internet.. before commercial use was approved.

Berneers web and Andreesons Mosaic was amazing, if you could figure it out back in the day.

Got winsocks?

Compuserve took a lot of the challenge away.


oh.. and a 25 pound AMPS 12 channel party line VHF phone in the trunk... before cells were put in anywhere.


and BTW.. still have one grandparent around.... she reminisces about sleeping out in the park… Chicago

I would do that now..

If I was geared up like Neo from the Matrix.


elmo jones's picture

Skategangs still all over los Angeles. Payphone 50cents. Bus. $1.75

HopefulCynical's picture

Don't post stupid shit and there's no problem.

cherry picker's picture

All depends who sees it doesn't it?

With some of the wackos working for US 'intelligence' nowadays they may interpret something innocent as perversion.

I had my children late.  I had grey hair and a sports car, took my 17 year old daughter and her friend to a restauant in Long Beach.

The looks I received were accusatory, like I was some child predator.  Idiots never considered the possibility that she was my daughter.  That is how sick this nation has become.  My daughter and her friend noticed it too.  We laughed about it but it is not a laughing matter.

Manthong's picture


It is natural for a wrinkled, aged,  decrepit, moneyed old F. to hang with a good looking young lady or better yet multiples.

“Fiddler on the Roof” comes to mind…

What’s wrong with the prudes in Long Beach?

Hell.. go to Disney……


geez.. just kidding, but society is pretty warped nowadays.


Scuba Steve's picture

Bet you ordered Pizza too just to send the nosey fukks into ordbit,huh?

Troy Ounce's picture

"Don't post stupid shit and there's no problem"

It is not you who decides what is stupid.


HopefulCynical's picture

Um, yeah, it is.

Posting "I'ma kill _____________" - probably not a great idea.

Posting "I hate [politician] so much I wish they'd die!" - probably not a good idea.

I think the point is made.

"Don't post stupid shit and there's no problem."

hongdo's picture

CNN reports:

Dangerous domestic terrorist HopefulCynical posts violent threats on Facebook.

"I hate politician so much I wish they'd die!"

"I'ma kill"[we believe he is refering to the afford said politicians]

We have notified the appropriate authorities and a SWAT team is on the way.

Just another way your "True News" tm network assists the government.


footnote:  CNN could pull the same crap on me now.  MSM edits quotes all the time.

Four chan's picture

post up all the most damning stuff up about the most powerful (((people))) damn the torpedos

Manthong's picture

I have been looking at your avatar for several years now...

damn.. don't lose it.

Bay of Pigs's picture

They're already doing shit like this. How about the false flag stories that make no sense. Lots of people are getting framed for crimes they did not commit.

Cower in fear? No thanks. I will say and do whatever I want as I know I have done nothing wrong.

fbazzrea's picture

I will say and do whatever I want as I know I have done nothing wrong.

that's one way to look at it, for sure. otoh, wonder how many innocent "witches" were burned at the stake in Salem and the Spanish Inquisition; how many done-nothing-wrong Jews were burned in Auschwitz; how many true patriots were suicided by Klintonistas; how many peaceful native American women and children exterminated for doing no wrong; and the list goes on... and on... and on.

i've often felt like you in the past, but as age tempers my temper and gray hair evidences non-fatal decisions made to date, i've migrated more towards picking my battles to ensure i've dry powder and shot when most critical. no sense being rounded up before the first volley.

deleted all my social media platforms and really don't feel all that comfortable here but there is a limitation to one's own discipline. just want to continue readying for whatever comes this way with my head down and my eyes open.

this is just my path. not for everyone. possibly for no one else but me. but it could be for you. your choice.

good luck--sincerely.


Bay of Pigs's picture

Same to you. I strive to be kind and peaceful to others and live the Aloha. Worrying about being framed or rounded up as a domestic terrorist isn't even on my radar. It's nonsense and a waste of time for me.

fbazzrea's picture

at this time, i agree. unfortunately, one cannot "undo" the data if in the future, you'd like to erase it.

if you never voice an opinion against the tyranny, no worries. it's those of us unable to constrain ourselves that must "tape our mouths closed" by completely removing ourselves from the temptation. (:

thinkmoretalkless's picture

I consider any of my communications online as public discourse. It's not how I want it to be rather the way it is. People on Fakebook or twitter etc remind me of a white rabbit I had as a kid....he would freeze under a green bush and think he was concealed.

LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD's picture
LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD (not verified) thinkmoretalkless Dec 27, 2016 11:27 AM

+10 for the white rabbit/green bush analogy.

Uzda Farce's picture
Uzda Farce (not verified) HopefulCynical Dec 27, 2016 6:43 PM

"Don't post stupid shit and there's no problem..." ???

Tell that to Zuckerberg. "Posting" is only for old fogeys. Facecrime is already here:

"As the tech industry continues to build VR’s social future, the very systems that enable immersive experiences are already establishing new forms of shockingly intimate surveillance... The value of collecting physiological and behavioral data is all too obvious for Silicon Valley firms like Facebook..."


Don't worry - if you don't have a Facebook account, gooberment will put one up fpr you.

Don't worry - if you don't post stoopid shit on Facebook, gooberment will do it for you.

Don't worry - if gooberment needs a fall guy to cement their narrative, your ass is getting waterboarded at Guantanimo.

Don't worry - if you were not guilty, you are now - enjoy solitary.

America - land of the free, home of the slave. 

George Carlin was right - YOU AREN'T A MEMBER OF THE FUCKING CLUB !