The police may be able to read your private messages

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

If you send a private message on Facebook or another social media site, who do you assume can read that message? If it’s between you and another individual, you probably believe that no one else will ever see it. You may also have sent the message to a group, meaning there are multiple recipients.

But no matter how many people are in the group, it is still very different from sending a public message or making a public post. This is information that you expect to be kept private. For instance, you would never assume that the local police department may be able to read your private messages. But can they?

Investigators can get a warrant

In some cases, it is certainly possible for the police to read your private messages. One way that this happens is when they get a warrant. This warrant could then be served to the social media company. 

For example, this already happened when investigators were seeking the contents of private messages between a woman and her daughter, which they exchanged on Facebook. When Meta – Facebook’s parent company – was served the warrant, they turned over all the encrypted chat messages for the police to read. This led not only to an arrest, but to a guilty plea.

It’s also worth noting that the police can sometimes look through your phone if they get a warrant. They generally can’t force you to open up your phone or show them the information. But they can get a search warrant that may override your lack of consent and allow them to see the contents of the messages on that phone.

These are two ways in which technology can impact criminal cases. If you’re involved in such a case, you need to know about your defense options.