Justin Carter Update: Facebook Unable to Provide Original Argument Thread

In February of this year, Texas teen Justin Carter was arrested and charged with making a “terroristic threat” in a gaming-related Facebook argument. The charge, his jailing and (finally, after months) his eventual $500,000 bond posting by an anonymous donor have sparked questions about free speech on the internet–particularly, as it intersects with law enforcement’s need to prevent domestic terror.

Carter’s pre-trial hearing was just held on Monday September 23, the focus of which was to attend to specific discovery requests previously filed by Carter’s defense.

Among them was a request to have the entire Facebook thread in question handed over to the defense. Part of the thread (pictured below) was captured via cell phone screenshot, but the entire thread has since been deleted. When asked by the state to produce a copy of the entire thread, Facebook reportedly declined. Carter’s attorney Don Flanary spoke with Game Front today, and explained the situation:

“We don’t have the whole thread. Whoever was the initial owner or generator of the thread took it down. Facebook told the government that they don’t have a copy of it, because it was deleted and taken down.

That sounds interesting, regarding all that we’ve heard in the last two months about what the government is able to do regarding preserving people’s Facebooks and all the information. I find it a little bit strange that Facebook says it’s lost and gone forever. I didn’t think anything was lost and gone forever.”

The entirety of the thread would benefit the defense, as it reportedly contains context that further shades Carter’s comments as a flippant joke (not a serious threat), and also displays a group argument with further context. “There’s context in what we see in what we have,” Flanary noted. “But there would be more context if we saw the entire thread. We have everything to gain by seeing the context.”

As far as users are concerned, Facebook does not appear to offer any option for recovering deleted wall posts.

We’ve reached out to Facebook for comment, and to request clarification on their policy regarding law enforcement requests for deleted threads. More information as we have it.

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5 Comments on Justin Carter Update: Facebook Unable to Provide Original Argument Thread

Aids

On September 26, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Facebook harvested and sells peoples personal information like lot of the silicon valley companies and yet somehow Failbook doesn’t have this information. It’s called bad PR and last thing a bunch of money whores wanna do is get media attention for their gross(sic) incompetence. More like, double standards.

adude

On September 28, 2013 at 5:34 am

Good One Facebook!!

Nate

On October 11, 2013 at 11:29 am

Facebook just doesn’t want to get caught up in this legal bad mess, its bad PR for them to be publicly handing over deleted facebook posts that should be gone, and should be private. They dont want to spook people from using facebook for fear of possible having everything they say handed over to authorities. Regardless if they would under different circumstances, its how it looks at face value that matters.

Name*

On October 19, 2013 at 8:26 pm

Tampering with evidence?

Susan Toman

On November 6, 2013 at 5:30 am

This case is ridiculous! There are so many issues that are REAL THREATs to be spending our time and tax dollars on. When it is discovered that someone ISN’T A REAL THREAT – law enforcement has done their due diligence and should DROP IT!