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Is the FBI tracking social media?

On Behalf of | Apr 25, 2022 | Criminal Defense

The internet may open up a world of opportunity, but it also opens individuals up to risk. The rise of social media in particular has introduced unique concerns.

In a recent blog post, we discussed the risks of criminal charges linked to social media use. It seems that risk is on the rise – and not just for teens and young adults.

Report: Surveillance is increasing on social media

The Washington Post reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) invested nearly $27 million with contractors to monitor social media sites. These include a wide range of the most popular sites, including TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, YouTube as well as the dark web. According to the report, this surveillance would include:

  • Real-time monitoring of posts
  • Translations of posts in other languages
  • Cellphone location data
  • Keyword tracking
  • Predictive analytics

Many individuals and organizations see this increase as a risk to individuals’ rights. For example, the report pointed out the risk of translation services misinterpreting a post leading to false accusations.

Even so, the risk of individuals facing very real criminal charges could increase as well.

Why is this something to be aware of?

Most online surveillance is in response to terror threats. Therefore, many people might overlook this report. However, increased surveillance is also in response to other computer crimes, including, but not limited to:

In particular, drug sales moved online because of opportunity – and the illusion of privacy. The global pandemic led even more people to turn to the internet to both buy and sell controlled substances.

The internet is not nearly as private as it seems. Even if individuals adjust their privacy settings and use private browsers, they leave a digital footprint. Law enforcement can already obtain quite a bit of information about individuals online, but increased surveillance could put individuals at even more risk of facing criminal charges based on their online activity.