Exposed: Social media giant is spying on conservative users and snitching to the feds
FILE PHOTO. © Omar Marques / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images
It’s been revealed by sources within the US Department of Justice that direct messages sent through Facebook by American users, along with public postings, have been rigorously monitored, and reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) if they express anti-government, anti-authority views, or if they question the legitimacy of the November 2020 presidential election’s outcome.
Witch hunt on the web
Under the terms of a secret collaboration agreement with the FBI, a Facebook staffer has, over the past 19 months, been red-flagging content they consider to be “subversive” and immediately transmitting it to the Bureau’s domestic terrorism operational unit, without the FBI having filed a single subpoena – outside the established US legal process, without probable cause, and in breach of the First Amendment, in other words.
Just as shockingly, these intercepted communications were then provided as leads and tips to FBI field offices across the US, which in turn secured subpoenas in order to officially obtain the private conversations that they already possessed, and thus cover up the fact the material had been obtained extra-legally. Facebook invariably complied with these subpoenas, and would send back “gigabytes of data and photos” within an hour, suggesting the content sought was already packaged and awaiting legal confirmation before distribution.
It is uncertain quite how many users were flagged, but it’s abundantly clear a specific type of person was of interest to the FBI — “red-blooded” conservative right-wingers, many of whom supported the right to bear arms. No one connected to Antifa, BLM or any other left-wing group was ever informed on.
It seems not a single Facebook user snitched upon for daring to be possessed of troublesome political opinions was ever arrested, or prosecuted, for their wrongthink, even though some were reportedly subject to covert surveillance and other forms of intrusion and harassment. Their views were consistently found to not translate to criminality or violence — their words were simply brutal condemnations of Biden’s election and presidency, and aggressive calls for protests.
FILE PHOTO: Conservative activists protest during the Save America Rally at the Duck Pond in Temecula on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021 as Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. © Watchara Phomicinda / MediaNews Group / The Press-Enterprise via Getty Images
However, once these users’ information reached FBI headquarters, it appears to have been selectively and misleadingly edited, “the most egregious parts highlighted and taken out of context” in order to perk the interest of field offices. Once the same data was sought and accessed by them via subpoena, the conversations “didn’t sound as bad” and none pointed to any “plan or orchestration to carry out any kind of violence.” No one spoke of injuring, let alone killing, anyone.
The entire operation appears to have been a gigantic waste of time but, given the Biden administration’s rhetoric about the January 6 Capitol “insurrection,” it would hardly surprise if the FBI was under intense political pressure to make as many arrests as possible of “right-wing terrorists” in order to make the sensationalist fantasies of White House officials a reality.
During the War on Terror, the FBI was in effect charged with creating a domestic terror threat, and delivered on a grand scale. Almost every major terrorism-related case in the post 9/11 period was effectively entrapment, with informants and undercover agents encouraging often mentally ill people to commit violent acts, helping them sketch mass casualty plans, and even providing the weapons to be used in the plots, which the FBI heroically busts at the last minute.
Luckily for those Facebook users flagged to the FBI, none were the victim of similar sting operations, although in the case of the October 2020 kidnapping plot targeting Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer by militia members, at least 12 individuals involved in the planning were working for the Bureau.
Who polices the police?
In two separate statements to the New York Post, a Facebook spokesperson seemed to contradict themselves on whether the Justice Department whistleblowers’ claims were accurate. First, they said the allegations were “false because they reflect a misunderstanding of how our systems protect people from harm and how we engage with law enforcement.” An hour later, they got in touch unprompted to say the accusations were “just wrong,” rather than “false.”
Coincidentally, that spokesperson previously worked for Planned Parenthood and “Obama for America.” The latter campaign, to get the then-President re-elected in 2012, not only employed the exact same tactics as Cambridge Analytica to harvest user data without knowledge or consent, but has also admitted it was allowed by Facebook to “do things they wouldn’t have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side.”
FILE PHOTO: President Obama shakes hands with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg after a town hall-style meeting to discuss the economy and the national debt in Palo Alto, Calif. on Wednesday, April 20, 2011. © Paul Chinn / The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images
For its part, the FBI would neither confirm nor deny the incendiary charges, although that the Bureau maintains a little-known “unclassified/law enforcement sensitive” relationship with Facebook has long-been a matter of record, and a spokesperson did concede that this connection allows for a “quick exchange” of information in an “ongoing dialogue.”
Even more ominously, if we accept that Facebook’s denial it has a subpoena-less agreement for the unfettered sharing of private user data to be truthful, this could imply that the FBI is running an agent –a “confidential human source,” in Bureau parlance– within the social media giant who has unfettered access, whether granted or not, to sensitive, private information on millions of users.
Of course, Facebook’s denial could just be a lie – or a literally true but consciously dishonest statement, in that it is aware a senior staffer is passing the FBI information and has approved the arrangement but this is not formal or officially admitted. Such a setup would grant the social media monopoly plausible deniability were questions to arise about misuse of users’ data – as they now have.
There are strong grounds to believe that whether Facebook is fully aware of the staffer’s relationship with the FBI or not, it would approve of the arrangement, and its upper-tier employees assisting US security and intelligence agencies in their work.
The Washington Post recently exposed how the Pentagon is conducting an extensive internal audit of all its psychological warfare operations online, after several fake accounts it was running were identified by researchers.
A fascinating passage in the article noted that, back in Summer 2020, David Agranovich, Facebook’s Director of Global Threat Disruption, who spent six years at the Pentagon then served as Director for Intelligence at the elite White House National Security Council, got in touch with his Pentagon pals directly, to warn them he and his team had identified a number of US military-managed trolls and bots on its network, and “if Facebook could sniff them out, so could US adversaries.”
“His point was, ‘Guys, you got caught. That’s a problem.’”
The obvious meaning of all this, which The Post apparently missed, is that senior Facebook staff consider their platform being weaponized for information warfare purposes to be acceptable if not welcome, as long as it’s US military and intelligence operatives doing it, and they don’t get “burned” — and they are willing to provide American spies with helpful guidance on how to operate in secret more effectively.
By Felix Livshitz