The Unofficial Guide To Facebook Law Enforcement Portal – Facebook removes potential evidence of police brutality so easily, activists say, that Facebook is at the center of a national conversation about race and policing. Is it too close to law enforcement?
As more details emerge about the fatal shooting of 23-year-old Corinne Gaines last week by Baltimore County police, activists have directed growing anger not only at local law enforcement but also on Facebook, the social media platform where Gaines has posted parts of his ongoing work. five years. Time to confront the police.
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At the request of law enforcement authorities, Facebook deleted Gaines’ account, as well as his Instagram account, which he also owns, during his confrontation with the authorities. While many of his videos are still unavailable, one of them, re-uploaded to YouTube, shows a policeman aiming a gun looking into the living room from behind a door, while a child’s voice can be heard in the background. In another video, posted to Instagram, Gaines can be heard talking to her five-year-old son, who is sitting on the floor in red pajamas.
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“Who’s out?” I asked him. “Police,” he replied shyly. “What are they trying to do?” “They are trying to kill us.”
Officials’ statements in the days following the incident revealed little-known details about the “law enforcement portal” through which agencies could request Facebook’s cooperation in an emergency, a feature of the site that remains largely a mystery to the general public and has been criticized since death. Gaines.
This is not the first time that Facebook has become the scene of violent confrontations between law enforcement and residents, and it appears that more and more such incidents will be documented on the social media hub, as the company’s live broadcasting application, Facebook Live, is only nine. months old and spreading at a time when police officer registration has become instinctive in some societies. Gaines herself previously recorded her interactions with the police and instructed her son to do the same.
But while it is common for police to ask Facebook to hand over user information, many observers are upset that the social media giant has canceled accounts at the behest of law enforcement.
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So far, Facebook appears to be fighting for its role at the heart of the national conversation about race and policing. Just last month, the site removed a live video posted by the girlfriend of Philando Castile, a 32-year-old African American man who was shot during a traffic stop in a suburb of St. Paul, MN. Castiel’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, went live and recounted his death seconds after he was shot by police, drawing attention across the country. On this occasion, Facebook confirmed that the disappearance of the video, which lasted about an hour, was due to a “technical error.” He later removed the post, adding a warning about graphic content, and the video has since been viewed 5.7 million times.
Then last week, before Gaines was murdered, Facebook disabled her accounts in response to a request from the Baltimore County Police. The accounts have since been restored, but most of the videos have not.
“Facebook helped Baltimore Police kill #KorrynGaines in the dark,” artist Ferrari Sheppard wrote on Twitter, echoing the sentiment shared by many on social media. “Let it sink.”
“By disabling Corinne Gaines’ account, Facebook has set a really dangerous precedent for police-ordered censorship. … It’s a fundamental threat to civil liberties.” Social media and shareable videos are essential to exposing the epidemic of violence against black people in the United States. ”
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Facebook is a proprietary platform, which means the First Amendment doesn’t restrict what it chooses to censor.
“But there is no doubt that constitutional values are not only a good idea, they are good for the bottom line of a company when that company sells a speech platform,” Lee Rowland, senior speech attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union. Privacy and Technology Project, announced
“There is a real danger to social media companies if they are seen to take sides in a public debate; by censoring a law enforcement request, they risk becoming a propaganda wing of the state.”
On August 1, Baltimore County police officers went to Gaines’ home to issue separate warrants for her and her boyfriend. According to court documents mentioned before
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Then one of the officers “forcibly opened the door,” and another entered the apartment and saw the woman, who was later identified as Gaines, with a rifle, the note said. The police wrote in the documents that he pointed the gun at an officer and told them to leave. The officer left and asked for support.
At a news conference the day after her death, Baltimore County Sheriff James Johnson confirmed that the administration had asked Facebook to disable her account while the confrontation was still underway, “in order to preserve the integrity of the negotiation process,” he said. For the safety of the officers involved, and Gaines’ son, who was in the room with her, was also shot by police.
“Ms. Gaines posted a video of the operation as it was, and her followers encouraged her not to comply with the negotiators’ request to surrender peacefully,” Johnson said, adding that Facebook took nearly an hour to disable the account after police sent her in. Apply through the Law Enforcement Portal available on the website for verified agencies.
Content on Gaines’ social media accounts has not been removed. BCoPD has sent a request to Facebook to keep this content as evidence. A search warrant will be obtained to obtain these records. Law enforcement officers do not have the ability or authority to disable social media accounts themselves. Facebook maintains a law enforcement portal through which police can seek help. This portal includes a “mandatory” option for emergencies like yesterday. BCoPD requested an emergency disabling due to the barrier position which includes an armed subject with a child. Facebook evaluates law enforcement requests and determines what action to take.
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That the company removed the videos and confirmed that they were not previously live on Facebook and that the Gaines account is back online and “Memorial” (the company offers a special feature to keep accounts of the dead). Police claim Gaines’ supporters were inciting violence, and the removal of the videos was a way to prevent “bodily injury or death.” Since the videos have now been removed, this is a difficult claim to parse.
This spokesperson added that some videos were also removed not because they posed a real and obvious danger to someone’s life, but because they violated the site’s “community standards” against “credible threats of physical harm to people”.
Interestingly, the mechanism by which law enforcement officials request removal of Facebook content is exactly the same mechanism they use to request disclosure: the law enforcement portal. The portal says it is designed “for a law enforcement officer authorized to collect evidence in connection with a formal investigation”. On the site, officers can write a message on Facebook with links to the profile or content in question and a description of the situation.
Facebook provides extensive documentation on how law enforcement can, for example, request access to someone’s Facebook page for investigative purposes. But these guidelines only describe how the police can keep or access the information as evidence, not how to dispose of it. The specific emergency actions policy cited by the Facebook spokesperson only describes data requests, not deletions:
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“In response to an investigation involving imminent harm to a child or risk of death or serious bodily injury to any person and requires disclosure of information without delay, a law enforcement officer may submit a request through the online law enforcement request system facebook.com/records.”
An “unofficial guide” apparently created by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department to help officers navigate a Facebook portal has been discovered by
, went into more detail about the process, although it also focuses on disclosing information, rather than removing it.
But while it’s no secret that law enforcement increasingly relies on social media to conduct investigations and build cases, closing accounts presents a different set of problems.
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Although Baltimore County is in the process of implementing a new body camera program, none of the officers involved in the collision were wearing one.
“The visual evidence is strong, and there is no doubt that the current police accountability movement has to do with the powerful publicly released images of excessive police force,” Rowland said. “There is a particular risk when social media removes a video that may present a unique view beyond that of law enforcement.”
“In general, social media companies should be very reluctant to comply with law enforcement requests in a way that might circumvent the right of citizens to the First Amendment to record interactions with police,” he added.
Some have called on Facebook to provide a public editor to review users’ concerns about civil rights issues, and many are calling for more transparency about how, when and why Facebook decides to comply with the law’s requests.
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“Facebook is increasingly putting itself in a position of power in deciding what the public can see,” said SumOfUs’ Karthy.
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