Facebook user data in bulk was sought last year by the New York County District Attorney’s office and a court directed it to produce virtually all records and communications for 381 accounts, the company disclosed Thursday. The social networking giant is now asking the court for the return or destruction of the data as well as a ruling on whether the bulk warrants violated the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution and other laws. The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures of property. The company said that since last July it has been fighting a set of sweeping search warrants issued by the Supreme Court for New York County that demanded that it turn over to law enforcement nearly all data from the accounts of the 381 people, including photos, private messages and other information.
Earlier this year, the New York district attorney’s office touted its bust of over 100 former police officers and firefighters who had allegedly faked their way into disability checks of up to $50,000 per year, defrauding the state of “up to $400 million.” The group of alleged fakers — who were coached by senior citizen masterminds, according to prosecutors — claimed they couldn’t leave their homes or find jobs, but “their Facebook pages told investigators a starkly different story,” said an article in the New York Times in January. “Former police officers who had told government doctors they were too mentally scarred to leave home had posted photographs of themselves fishing, riding motorcycles, driving water scooters, flying helicopters and playing basketball.” Now Facebook is saying the investigators deserve investigating, for making an unconstitutional grab of those Facebook photos — along with private messages, Likes, and other potentially incriminating historical activity — for hundreds of people, threatening Facebook employees with jail time when they balked at handing the digital dossiers over.