The Justice Department has filed three search warrants that would allow it to search the personal information of approximately 6,000 Facebook accounts that “liked” an anti-Donald Trump page, according to court documents obtained by CNN and LawNewz.
The search warrants were first filed in February and focus on three people, including Emmelia Talarico, who runs the “disruptj20” page — which has already been in the crosshairs of the Justice Department for its role in organizing inauguration day protests.
Facebook and the Justice Department did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion on Thursday to challenge the warrants, arguing that the investigation threatens the First Amendment if it allows the government to watch anyone deemed to be anti-administration.
The Justice Department would like to obtain the “personal passwords, security questions and answers, and credit card information,” of page visitors, along with “the private lists of invitees and attendees to multiple political events sponsored by the page,” Talarico told CNN.
If the government obtains Talarico’s information, it will have access to about 6,000 users connected to her page.
The disruptj20.org website provided maps, “organizing resources,” and an “organizing fund” for its visitors to protest the inauguration of President Donald Trump last January.
“The warrants make no provision for avoiding or minimizing invasions into personal and associational/expression information, for preventing such information from being shared widely within the government, or for destroying irrelevant material when the investigation is concluded,” said the ACLU’s filing.
Talarico, along with the personal accounts for Lacy MacAuley and Legba Carrefour, didn’t know about the warrants because of a gag order, according to LawNewz.
A Facebook spokesperson told TheWrap the company worked to notify the three users about the investigation.
“We successfully fought in court to be able to notify the three people whose broad account information was requested by the government,” said the spokesperson. “We are grateful to the companies and civil society organizations that supported us in arguing for people’s ability to learn about and challenge overly broad search warrants.”
6 Tech Giants Shaking Up News, From Jeff Bezos to Laurene Powell Jobs (Photos)
Tech leaders are increasingly intertwined with the news business. While some want to support old properties, one set out to destroy a new one. Here they are.
Jeff Bezos – Washington Post
The Amazon founder purchased the Washington Post in 2013 for $250 million in cash. President Trump has called the paper the “Amazon Washington Post.”
The Facebook co-founder purchased The New Republic in 2012, becoming executive chairman and publisher. However, he sold the venerable political magazine to Win McCormack in 2016, saying he "underestimated the difficulty of transitioning an old and traditional institution into a digital media company in today’s quickly evolving climate."
The eBay founder is a well-known philanthropist who created First Look Media, a journalism venture behind The Intercept. Inspired by Edward Snowden's leaks. Omidyar teamed up with journalists Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill and Laura Poitras to launch the website “dedicated to the kind of reporting those disclosures required: fearless, adversarial journalism.”
The PayPal co-founder doesn’t own a news organization, but he makes this list because he essentially ended one -- Gawker -- proving once again the power of an angry billionaire. Thiel secretly bankrolled Hulk Hogan’s sex-tape lawsuit against Gawker Media because he was upset that the website once outed him as gay. Hogan won the defamation lawsuit against the site that sent its parent company into bankruptcy, and Gawker.com is no longer operating.
OK, so Facebook isn’t technically a news organization… yet. However, the company is preparing to launch its much-anticipated lineup of original content later this summer, and there are also signs that it's on the verge of becoming an even bigger media platform.
Campbell Brown, Head of News Partnerships at Facebook, confirmed last week it’s developing a subscription service for publishers willing to post articles directly to Facebook Instant Articles, rather than their native websites.