Gaines, 23, was posting videos to her Facebook page in an effort to document her ordeal, when the social media company took down her profile. Facebook also deactivated her Instagram account, which is owned by Facebook.
The department released a statement on the process they followed to have the accounts deactivated. You can read the statement below:
On-scene command staff filed a request with Facebook during the barricade to deactivate Gaines’ Facebook and Instagram accounts in order to preserve the integrity of negotiations with her and for the safety of Gaines, her child and officers. Gaines was posting video of the operation, and followers were encouraging her not to comply with negotiators’ requests that she surrender peacefully. This was a serious concern; successful negotiations often depend on the negotiators’ ability to converse directly with the subject, without interference or distraction during extremely volatile conditions.
The content on Gaines’ social media accounts has not been deleted. BCoPD has filed a request with Facebook to preserve this content as evidence. A search warrant will be obtained to obtain these records.
Law enforcement officials do not have the ability or authority to deactivate social media accounts on their own. Facebook maintains a law enforcement portal through which police request assistance. This portal includes an “exigency” option for emergency situations like the one yesterday. BCoPD applied for the exigency deactivation because of a barricade situation involving an armed subject with a child.
Facebook evaluates law enforcement requests and determines what action will be taken. It took nearly an hour after BCoPD contacted Facebook for Gaines’ accounts to be taken off line. h/t theheavy
Facebook has not commented on the untimely closure of Gaines’ account.