Law enforcement is requesting social media data from companies like Facebook and Google to build cases and prosecute people after crimes have been committed. And sometimes, these crimes involve abortion, and these tech companies are turning over user chat logs and search history to help out the cops.
For example, a woman and her daughter in Nebraska are facing charges of performing an illegal abortion. And guess who gave prosecutors a key piece of evidence? You got it – Facebook, via some internal chat logs that revealed the mother and daughter had discussed finding abortion-inducing medication through the app.
And it’s not just social media – online pharmacies selling abortion pills are also sharing user data with Google and other third-party sites. ProPublica found at least nine online pharmacies doing this, including sites like Abortion Ease and BestAbortionPill.com. And you know what that means? This data can be accessed by the cops too.
Representatives for the FBI, Google, and the police departments in LA and NYC didn’t respond to requests for comment. But a spokesperson for Meta (Facebook’s parent company) said they only comply with government requests when they’re legally required to, and they assess whether a request is consistent with human rights standards. Apparently, they get over 400,000 requests a year and comply with more than 70% of them.
So, if you’re out here using social media or buying medication online, just know that your data might not be as private as you think.