Is the federal government snooping around your social networking?

Of course they are. It’s what they do. The scary part is how easily they are allowed access to your private messages, photos, status history, etc.

Documents shows that law enforcement agents from local police to the FBI and Secret Service have been logging on to MySpace, Facebook, and other sites undercover to communicate with suspects, read private postings and view photos and videos that are restricted to a user’s friends.

Some of the things they can do with this ability:

  • Reveal personal communications
  • Establish motives and personal relationships
  • Provide location information
  • Prove and disprove alibis
  • Establish crime or criminal enterprise

Two write-ups I read (Wired and Yahoo) state similar findings and facts regarding this. Facebook is “often cooperative with emergency requests,” the government said. MySpace preserves information about its users indefinitely and even stores data from deleted accounts for one year. They require a search warrant for private messages less than six months old, according to the company. But Twitter‘s lawyers tell prosecutors they need a warrant or subpoena before the company turns over customer information.

Now the flip-side, according to the law, is that no government official may falsify information in their account. Terms of Service for these networking sites state that you are not allowed to submit fraudulent information when registering for the site. Therefore FBI agents are not allowed to create fake or spoof accounts to collect information with.