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Facebook's disturbing treasure trove of data

11:30 Tue Apr 10 2012
By MSN NZ staff
Facebook stores an incredible amount of personal information about users — including the profiles you visit and the photos you view.
Facebook stores an incredible amount of personal information about users — including the profiles you visit and the photos you view.

Facebook stores an incredible amount of personal information about users — including the profiles you visit and the photos you view — and will provide it to law enforcement agencies if presented with a subpoena.

The Boston Phoenix, an alternative weekly newspaper in Massachusetts, uncovered a comprehensive data file released by the social network while researching Philip Haynes Markoff — the man dubbed the Craigslist Killer.

The Boston Police Department had obtained the document from Facebook under subpoena while investigating Markoff, and subsequently released it to journalists.

Printed in hardcopy, the data provided not only a comprehensive list of status updates, photos and posts made by the user, but also the profiles and pages he visited within the network.

No information provided to Boston Police was redacted by Facebook — including that of other users not involved in the case — but police and the Boston Phoenix removed names that would breach the privacy of users before publication.

Facebook has been reluctant to disclose how it works with law enforcement agencies in the United States and around the world, but says in its terms of use that they "may disclose information pursuant to subpoenas, court orders, or other requests (including criminal and civil matters) if we have a good faith belief that the response is required by law".