Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Facebook Bars Jailbirds

Now among the liberties stripped from convicted California felons: Access to Facebook.

Prison inmates have been using their Facebook accounts, often via contraband cellphones, to threaten their victims and harass others, says the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

In one instance, a child molester who had been in prison for seven years sketched pictures of his then-17-year-old victim based on her current Myspace and Facebook pages and sent them to her family.

Other inmates are simply updating their status messages while incarcerated — as in the pictured Facebook profile above, where an inmate talks about running and playing handball in the prison yard. In order to post updates, it appears he was using a cellphone, which inmates are not allowed to have, but often do. The CDCR said 7,284 cellphones were confiscated in the first half of 2011, compared to 261 in all of 2006.

CDCR’s solution is to engage Facebook’s security team to remove any accounts set up or monitored on behalf of inmates while they’re incarcerated. It put out a press release this week saying Facebook had agreed to do so and encouraging citizens to report state inmates’ Facebook accounts.

That wouldn’t necessarily stop inmates from illicitly viewing Facebook, as in the case above, but it might stop them from actively participating.

Facebook told the Sacramento Bee it makes a practice of cooperating with law enforcement requests, though the CDCR said that prior to this pact it has only been able to get Facebook to take down a single account.

Please see the disclosure about Facebook in my ethics statement.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald