, 31 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
THREAD: What liability could Facebook or its employees have for illegal Russian contributions made via Facebook?
1/ One week ago, I wrote this thread, explaining the important implications of the Facebook search warrant:
2/ Since that time, the #1 question I've been asked is whether Facebook or its employees could have their own potential liability.
3/ As a starting point, let me say that many companies create communication platforms that are commonly used by criminals.
4/ For example, every cell phone provider has subscribers who are criminals who use those phones to further the crime.
5/ When I was a federal prosecutor, I routinely sought court orders to obtain data from communication providers like Facebook or Verizon.
6/ Just because a crime is committed on a communications platform does *not* mean the communications platform is criminally liable.
7/ But what if someone at Facebook knew what was going on? After all, a U.S. Senator said that they were paid in rubles and implied that
8/ he was concerned about their role. And he wasn't the only one. The short answer is that Facebook employees are like anyone else.
9/ If they knew that a crime was being committed and helped the crime succeed in some tangible way, then they have criminal liability.
10/ In this context, the crime was an illegal foreign contribution to a U.S. election. So the question would be whether someone at Facebook
11/ knew that foreigners were contributing to the election and helped that effort. To be clear, they would have to actually *know* about the
12/ activity, not just have access to a database that had data in it. So let's say hypothetically that someone at Facebook did this.
13/ In that hypothetical example, could Facebook itself be charged with a crime? The short answer is "yes," if the person was someone high
14/ up in management, (If you want to read more, search for "respondeat superior"). But generally speaking, federal prosecutors prefer to
15/ charge individuals, not companies. You can't throw companies in prison. Prosecuting individuals is a more effective way to deter crime.
16/ Here is a famous recent memo by @SallyQYates when she was Deputy AG discussing that point in great detail: justice.gov/archives/dag/f…
17/ There are a set of ten factors that federal prosecutors consider when deciding whether to charge a corporation. You can find those
18/ factors at 9-28.300 in this link. I won't discuss them all here. justice.gov/usam/usam-9-28…
19/ One very important factor is "the corporation's willingness to cooperate in the investigation" of its officers and employees.
20/ One thing I can tell you first-hand is that Facebook has some really excellent lawyers, and I'm sure they have considered that factor.
21/ A corporation is bigger than any one individual. Corporations have many shareholders and employees. So a lawyer for the corporation has
22/ a duty to conduct an investigation when there is potential wrongdoing. It did not surprise me at all to see a video from Mark Zuckerberg
23/ referencing an internal investigation. That's what a smart company would do in this situation. Quickly investigate and cooperate.
24/ I should note that Facebook has often had a difficult relationship with law enforcement. They insist on court orders even in situations
25/ where other companies wouldn't. But here Mueller obtained that order (a search warrant) and there is a lot at stake for them.
26/ So if Facebook employees were involved in the criminal scheme, I'd expect that to be discovered quickly.
27/ Regardless of what happens in terms of criminal liability, Facebook has significant challenges ahead. For one thing, people may be
28/ tempted to file civil lawsuits against Facebook. There are many obstacles to lawsuits but that could happen. A more likely issue that
29/ Facebook will face is a desire by Congress to pass laws that impose responsibilities on Facebook going forward to ensure that this never
30/ happens again. As an American, I hope and expect that there is a bipartisan effort to pass laws to limit future Russian operations. /end
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to Renato Mariotti
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member and get exclusive features!

Premium member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year)

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

border-bottom:dotted 1px #999}