Lawyers for the Trump administration have served Facebook with three separate search warrants, demanding the private account information of users who could be described in their words as “anti-administration activists who have spoken out at organized events, and who are generally very critical of this administration’s policies.” Read: Trump critics, and this has the potential to affect thousands of Facebook users.
Fortunately, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion to quash the warrants on Thursday on behalf of three Facebook users. “What is particularly chilling about these warrants is that anti-administration political activists are going to have their political associations and views scrutinized by the very administration they are protesting,” said ACLU attorney Scott Michelman.
One such user is Emmelia Talarico. Talarico operated the disruptj20 page where other users could discuss and organize protests for Trump’s Inauguration Day. If the search warrants are passed and Facebook is required to hand over the information, the government would have access to the identities of the estimated 6,000 users who visited the page. Talarico says if her account information were given to the government, officials would have access to her “personal passwords, security questions and answers, and credit card information,” plus “the private lists of invitees and attendees to multiple political events sponsored by the page.”
Facebook was first served the warrants back in February and they came with a gag order preventing the social media giant from alerting the three users in question about the government seeking their personal information. Michelman claims that government attorneys dropped the gag order earlier this month, allowing Facebook to expose the existence of the warrants, however, all court filings and any response from Facebook are still deemed confidential.
The warrants also seek the personal information from the accounts of Lacy MacAuley and Legba Carrefour. Carrefour, a self-described political activist, acknowledges that he has “participated in or helped to organize dozens of demonstrations and events of various types in service of political causes,” but is also concerned about the warrants because his Facebook account “contains a significant amount of private material concerning my personal life.”