Street closures for UN General Assembly

Facebook fighting court order over secret government access to user accounts

WASHINGTON  — Technology companies and civil liberties groups have joined Facebook in a fight over government access to social media accounts.

The Washington Post reports that the timing of the government’s request and other references in court documents suggest the search warrants relate to demonstrations during President Donald Trump’s inauguration, when more than 200 people were charged with rioting.

A court order blocks Facebook from letting users know when law enforcement investigators ask to search their online information, particularly their political affiliations and comments.

Facebook argues the court order violates First Amendment protections of the company and individuals.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment on the case, which is in the D.C. Court of Appeals.

In the last six months of 2016, Facebook reported about 41,000 requests for information from the government, according to the Washington Post. The social media site wants to give those users a heads up about search warrants the government is executing on their accounts.