Meta responds amid outrage over Facebook’s involvement in Nebraska prosecution

The company is defending Facebook’s decision to give users’ private messages to police.

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MENLO PARK, CA: After Facebook gave local Nebraska authorities access to two users’ accounts, parent company Meta is defending the social network’s move. 

In late April, a Norfolk, Nebraska, police detective launched an investigation based on a tip that Celeste Burgess had miscarried and, with her mother’s help, buried the body, the Lincoln Journal Star reported

The detective then obtained Burgess’ medical records and determined that she had been over 23 weeks pregnant at the time. 

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Nebraska banned abortions past 20 weeks of pregnancy. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts said on Monday that the state’s Republican lawmakers did not have the votes to pass a bill that would outlaw abortions beyond 12 weeks. 

After Burgess told the police that she had miscarried, the detective issued Facebook a search warrant, requesting access to the teenager and her mothers’ accounts. The police found private messages allegedly describing that Burgess had undergone a self-managed abortion and buried the fetus with her mother’s assistance.

Meta has denied knowing about Burgess’ alleged abortion.  

“Nothing in the valid warrants we received from local law enforcement in early June, prior to the Supreme Court decision, mentioned abortion,” a Meta spokesperson told PRWeek. “The warrants concerned charges related to a criminal investigation and court documents indicate that police at the time were investigating the case of a stillborn baby who was burned and buried, not a decision to have an abortion.”

In June, Meta said it would cover travel expenses for employees seeking an abortion out of state. 

The Facebook parent company also addressed its silence on the matter until now. 

“Both of these warrants were originally accompanied by non-disclosure orders, which prevented us from sharing any information about them. The orders have now been lifted,” the Meta spokesperson added. 

Burgess, who is being tried as an adult, has been accused of two misdemeanors and one felony, while her mother has been charged with five crimes, including three felonies. 

Facebook’s actions quickly sparked outrage on Twitter. 

Meta reported a revenue of $28.8 billion in Q2, down 1% from $29.1 billion last year. The Facebook parent company also posted net income of $6.7 billion, a 36% drop from $10.4 billion in Q2 2021. 

The company also recently named Dan Shaw as director of people communications. 


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