Facebook has long been scrutinized for having a cozy relationship with law enforcement, often willingly handing over user data to police and government agencies when it’s requested. However, the company may be making it even easier than previously thought for the government to get in touch. According to a report this week in The Intercept, Facebook has built a special portal that only officials with .gov or law enforcement email addresses can access. Using that tool, these officials can ask Facebook to remove any content that they deem to be disinformation.
According to the report, Facebook created this platform for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other government groups to use. This comes after the DHS shelved a controversial plan earlier this year to create a Disinformation Board that would’ve policed online content. However, despite that plan going away, it seems that much of the underlying work could still be done through this portal.
The government originally wanted this kind of access to prevent Russian disinformation from spreading around U.S. elections, which is an admirable goal. However, it seems unwise — not to mention grossly invasive — to give them this kind of control over the content we see on Facebook. Hopefully this report causes the company to reassess this practice and do more to protect its users from government overreach.
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