Government is exposing identities of child abuse victims
The discovery was made by looking closely at court filings, in which the government discloses teenagers’ initials and their Facebook identifying numbers – a unique code linked to each Facebook account. You can find yours here at this lookup service. After you plug in your user name, it will return a Facebook ID that links directly to your profile, along with, of course, your name, when you input the number after the URL https://www.facebook.com/.
I did it just now to my own profile. Well, that was easy. So much for protecting the identity of child abuse victims, or, for that matter, of any other victim whose identity is supposed to be redacted but whose Facebook profile ID – in other words, their identity – is there for all to see.
Forbes likewise found that it could find accounts belonging to minors, along with their names and other personal information, by simply entering the Facebook profile IDs entered into court documents.
The magazine did just that and found two identities that were supposed to be redacted from court cases unsealed this month. Thomas Brewster reports that it was as simple as copying and pasting Facebook IDs from the court filings into Facebook’s web address. The publication withheld their names and other identifying information in order to protect the victims’ identities.
In one such case, a recently unsealed case in Nebraska, the FBI search warrant gave away the initials and Facebook profile number of a then 14-year-old girl, plus the detailed, lewd conversations she had with a 28-year-old man.