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.

Latest Video

View all videos »

Search »

I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik