People often assume that their Facebook messages are private. They think of them similarly to text messages. These are private messages between two individuals that no one else has the ability to read. This makes them much different than public posts on someone’s Facebook wall, which are open for anyone to read.
However, if you’re involved in a criminal investigation, you may be concerned that the police are going to get your private messages from Facebook. Will the company turn over this information? Are they obligated to do so?
The police can get a warrant
There have already been cases where Facebook has turned over private message information to the authorities. As a general rule, the police need to get a warrant, and they then serve Facebook with this warrant. It’s unclear exactly how common this will be in the future, but it is something that has happened in the past – and Facebook has complied with the request.
What this means is that you should never assume your messages are entirely private. You may only intend them for one other individual, but there’s no telling who will eventually be able to read those messages. Anything that has been written down on the Internet is very hard to delete, and it may be impossible to entirely remove those messages once they’ve been sent. They always exist as potential evidence in a criminal case, and it’s important to keep that in mind before sending them.
If you are facing criminal charges, you may have some questions about how the police gathered evidence or what was legal and what was not. Be sure you understand all of your criminal defense options at this time.