Facebook Live video leads Milwaukee Police to drug dealing arrest
Chicago police said private Facebook groups are helping illegal drug and gun sellers connect with potential buyers via social media as a two-year undercover investigation led to more than 50 arrests.
Chicago police officials also accused Facebook of failing to help prevent illegal arms sales. The social network banned the private sale, sale and exchange of firearms in 2016, but investigators said they found dealers using private groups and messages to quickly sell firearms and drugs at prices in excess of street prices..
First Deputy Superintendent Anthony Riccio said Facebook agreed to shut down the groups identified by the Chicago investigation, but it should also kick those groups off the site..
«Facebook often cites privacy concerns when faced with the facts of our investigation, Riccio said. “The truth is, Facebook harbors criminals. These criminals know how to use the privacy that Facebook gives them, and they profit from the sale of illegal drugs and dangerous weapons.».
Riccio also said police were frustrated with Facebook’s removal of fake profiles that investigators use to impersonate potential buyers..
Facebook spokeswoman Sarah Pollack said the company is responding quickly to «legitimate» police inquiries.
«There is no place for the illegal sale of drugs and firearms on our platform, Pollack said. – We remove content and accounts that violate our policies. Over 97% of drug-selling content and over 93% of firearms-selling content is tracked, which we remove before being reported to us».
The company’s instructions to law enforcement say that a subpoena is required to gain access to subscriber records, including name, email addresses, and location information, during recent logins; Disclosure of account content requires a federal or state search warrant. The site also states that all Facebook users must use «the name they use in everyday life», and fake accounts will be banned.
Chicago police have previously filed claims against Facebook following previous investigations into illegal arms and drug sales on the platform. In 2017, then Superintendent Eddie Johnson stated that the company was unwilling to cooperate with police fighting this activity..
Tensions over the use of social media by law enforcement agencies exist in other areas; For example, police in Memphis sued a branch of the American Civil Liberties Union in 2018 for using a secret Facebook account to monitor the activities of protesters.
Privacy advocates argue that Facebook can do more to protect users from this kind of police action, and force police officers to continue to comply with their basic law enforcement obligations under the same rules as everyone else on the platform..
Facebook says it uses detection technology to find content that violates its drug or firearms policy, including posts on private groups.
Charlie Beck, Chicago’s interim police chief and former chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, said Facebook users’ privacy rights are not «transcend the rights of the general public».
«Another person’s rights must end when the safety of the other person is at stake, Beck said. – That’s what legality is».