Subpoenas and court orders to Facebook

We continue to get questions on what records can be obtained by subpoena or court order to Facebook. Generally, only a criminal case subpoena or court order will result in Facebook complying. In that case, we have seen all kinds of data turned over: photos, wall posts, photos uploaded to a page, lists of Facebook friends. Perhaps most intriguing and helpful is login and IP address data--which can be linked to physical addresses in some other private databases that we (and most PIs) subscribe.

Note that while these subpoena’s are most often sent by law enforcement, a defendant is entitled to the same data (just not in expedited fashion like an on-going investigation might require).

According to Facebook’s Law Enforcement and Third-Party Matters (not easily found on the site, in Facebook’s typical sloppy manner): “Federal law prohibits Facebook from disclosing user content (such as messages, timeline posts, photos, etc.) in response to a civil subpoena. Specifically, the Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2701 et seq., prohibits Facebook from disclosing the contents of an account to any non-governmental entity pursuant to a subpoena or court order.”