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  • Writer's pictureSam Orlando

Social Media Surveillance: Is the FBI Monitoring Your Online Activity?

Written by: Sam Orlando

"Every Day, All Day Long": The FBI's Routine Surveillance on Social Media

STAUNTON, VIRGINIA - In a world where the boundary between online banter and potential threats is increasingly blurred, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) appears to be taking no chances, especially on platforms like Facebook. The recent encounter of Stillwater, Oklahoma resident, Rolla Abdeljawad, with three FBI agents at her doorstep underscores this reality.

"We do this every day, all day long. It's just an effort to keep everybody safe and make sure nobody has any ill will," one agent explained during the interaction, highlighting the extent of their surveillance efforts. Abdeljawad, a vocal critic of the war in Gaza and a supporter of Palestinian rights, found herself the subject of an investigation due to her Facebook posts. The agents, who declined to show their badges on camera, were reportedly acting on "screenshots" of Abdeljawad's social media activity, provided by none other than Facebook itself.

Between Public Safety and Personal Privacy: Where Do We Draw the Line?

This incident brings to light the extensive collaboration between social media giants and law enforcement agencies. According to Meta's transparency report, in the first half of 2023 alone, the company received 73,956 requests from U.S. law enforcement and complied with 87.84 percent of them. While Meta insists that such cooperation is in response to legal requests or emergency situations, the question arises: where do we draw the line between safeguarding public safety and infringing on personal freedoms?

A Nationwide Trend: From Online Expressions to Real-World Investigations

Abdeljawad's experience is not an isolated case. Across the country, individuals are finding themselves under scrutiny for their online expressions. The FBI insists that its actions are in the interest of national security and public safety, emphasizing that investigations are not initiated based solely on First Amendment protected activities. However, the agency's approach raises concerns about the extent of surveillance and the potential chilling effect on free speech.

Knowing Your Rights: The First Line of Defense Against Overreach

The irony of Abdeljawad's situation is palpable. Prior to the incident, she had warned her community about the very surveillance she would later face, highlighting a growing apprehension toward what many perceive as a burgeoning police state. Her refusal to engage with the agents without legal representation, as advised by her lawyer Hassan Shibly, serves as a reminder of the importance of knowing one's rights in the face of law enforcement.

Reassessing Priorities: The Call for a More Balanced Approach to Law Enforcement

As we navigate these complex waters, one can't help but wonder about the allocation of resources and priorities of our law enforcement agencies. The diligence with which the FBI monitors social media posts is indeed remarkable. Imagine, for a moment, if the same zeal were applied to addressing issues like police corruption. Perhaps then, the public's faith in law enforcement would see a significant boost. After all, in the quest to uphold the Constitution and protect the American people, shouldn't the scales of justice weigh equally on all fronts?

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