DOJ Wants Access to Facebook Accounts of Anti-Trump Protesters

It could give government names of thousands who 'liked' anti-Trump page
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 29, 2017 7:14 PM CDT
DOJ Wants Access to Facebook Accounts of Anti-Trump Protesters
In this Jan. 20, 2017 photo, protesters chant on the National Mall during a demonstration after the inauguration of President Trump in Washington.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

Attorneys for the Department of Justice filed search warrants in February to access the Facebook accounts of three people described as "anti-administration activists," CNN reports. According to NBC News, not only would the search warrants give the government access to—as the ACLU puts it—"all private messages, friend lists, status updates, comments, photos, video, and other private information" of those three individuals but also the names of approximately 6,000 people who "liked" an anti-Trump protest page run by one of them. Facebook spent seven months fighting the government in court to be able to inform the users—Emmelia Talarico, Lacy MacAuley, and Legba Carrefour—about the search warrants, winning that argument this month. With the search warrants now public, the ACLU filed in defense of the three Facebook users Thursday, LawNewz reports.

The Department of Justice is seeking access to the trio's Facebook accounts in connection with the arrests of hundreds of protesters during President Trump's inauguration. But the ACLU claims the search warrants violate the Fourth Amendment by being too broad and could chill free speech. "Opening up the entire contents of a personal Facebook page for review by the government is a gross invasion of privacy," a senior staff attorney at the ACLU tells NBC. Not only that but access to a protest Facebook page run by Talarico could give the government the names of thousands of people interest in anti-Trump protests, opening them up to government observation. The ACLU is seeking to quash the search warrants. (Read more protesters stories.)

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