Feds Swarm Facebook for Leads, Under Cover

Documents show FBI friends suspects to mine information
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 16, 2010 1:34 PM CDT
A Facebook user logs in. Careful who you friend.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – Your next Facebook friend might well be a federal agent trying to bust you. That’s the gist of a Justice Department document obtained via the Freedom of Information Act by a privacy group. It reveals that FBI agents are mining social networks for info on suspects, ranging from alibi confirmation to suspicious photos. Watchdogs are wary. “It doesn't really discuss any mechanisms for accountability,” one tells the AP.

If you think online FBI surveillance might screw with your cool, consider law enforcement’s own problems. “You could really mess up someone's investigation because you're investigating the same person,” a local cop says, “and maybe doing things that are counterproductive to what another agency is doing.” And the government is even worried about its own. “Social networking and the courtroom can be a dangerous combination.”

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