These operational guidelines are for law enforcement officials seeking records from Facebook and Instagram. For private party requests, including requests from civil litigants and criminal defendants, please visit the Help Center. Users seeking information on their own accounts can access Facebook’s “Download Your Information” feature from their account settings. This information may change at any time.
Table of Contents
U.S. Legal Process Requirements
We disclose account records solely in accordance with our terms of service and applicable law, including the federal Stored Communications Act (“SCA”), 18 U.S.C. Sections 2701-2712. Under U.S. law:
A valid subpoena issued in connection with an official criminal investigation is required to compel the disclosure of basic subscriber records (defined in 18 U.S.C. Section 2703(c)(2)), which may include: name, length of service, credit card information, email address(es), and a recent login/logout IP address(es), if available.
A court order issued under 18 U.S.C. Section 2703(d) is required to compel the disclosure of certain records or other information pertaining to the account, not including contents of communications, which may include message headers and IP addresses, in addition to the basic subscriber records identified above.
A search warrant issued under the procedures described in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure or equivalent state warrant procedures upon a showing of probable cause is required to compel the disclosure of the stored contents of any account, which may include messages, photos, videos, timeline posts, and location information.
We interpret the national security letter provision as applied to Facebook to require the production of only 2 categories of information: name and length of service.
International Legal Process Requirements
We disclose account records solely in accordance with our terms of service and applicable law. A Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty request or letter rogatory may be required to compel the disclosure of the contents of an account. Further information can be found here.
People on Facebook are required to use the name they go by in everyday life and must not maintain multiple accounts. Operating fake accounts, pretending to be someone else, or otherwise misrepresenting your authentic identity is not allowed, and we will act on violating accounts. Please see our Misrepresentation policies here.
We will take steps to preserve account records in connection with official criminal investigations for 90 days pending our receipt of formal legal process. You may expeditiously submit formal preservation requests through the Law Enforcement Online Request System, or mail as indicated below.
In responding to a matter involving imminent harm to a child or risk of death or serious physical injury to any person and requiring disclosure of information without delay, a law enforcement official may submit a request through the Law Enforcement Online Request System. Note: We will not review or respond to requests submitted by non-law enforcement officials. Users aware of an emergency situation should immediately and directly contact local law enforcement officials.
Child Safety Matters
We report all apparent instances of child exploitation appearing on our site from anywhere in the world to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), including content drawn to our attention by government requests. NCMEC coordinates with the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children and law enforcement authorities from around the world. If a request relates to a child exploitation or safety matter, please specify those circumstances (and include relevant NCMEC report identifiers) in the request to ensure that we are able to address these matters expeditiously and effectively.
Data Retention and Availability
We will search for and disclose data that is specified with particularity in an appropriate form of legal process and which we are reasonably able to locate and retrieve. We do not retain data for law enforcement purposes unless we receive a valid preservation request before a user has deleted that content from our service.
Details about data and account deletion can be found in our Data Policy, Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, and Help Center.
Form of Requests
We will be unable to process overly broad or vague requests. All requests must identify requested records with particularity, including the specific data categories requested and date limitations for the request, as well as include:
The name of the issuing authority and agent, email address from a law-enforcement domain, and direct contact phone number.
The email address, phone number (+XXXXXXXXXX), user ID number (http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1000000XXXXXXXX) or username (http://www.facebook.com/username) of the Facebook profile.
If a law enforcement official is seeking information about a Facebook user who has provided consent for the official to access or obtain the user’s account information, the user should be directed to obtain that information on their own from their account. For account content, such as messages, photos, videos and timeline posts, users can access Facebook’s “Download Your Information” feature from their account settings. Users can also view recent IP addresses in their account settings under “Security Settings” > “Where You’re Logged In”. Users do not have access to historical IP information without legal process.
Facebook nor Instagram provides expert testimony support. In addition, Facebook and Instagram records are self-authenticating pursuant to law and should not require the testimony of a records custodian. If a special form of certification is required, please attach it to your records request.
We may seek reimbursement for costs in responding to requests for information as provided by law. These fees apply on a per account basis. We may also charge additional fees for costs incurred in responding to unusual or burdensome requests.
We may waive these fees in matters investigating potential harm to children, Facebook, Instagram and our users, and emergency requests.