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Brownsville DA Gets WorldWide Media Coverage 4 Using Facebook Profiles in Jury Selection Process

Armando Villalobos, Cameron County’s District Attorney, is making news all around the country and across the globe from his office down in Brownsville, Texas — all because Mr Villalobos has decided to use Facebook as part of his jury selection.

That’s right:  the District Attorney has announced that prosecutors down in Brownsville are going to use Facebook pages (will all the info that folk place there) when they are facing a jury panel and deciding who they want to challenge and what questions they want to ask during voir dire, etc. as they cull through potential jurors during the usual jury selection process.

That’s right: doesn’t matter that people use Facebook without any idea that their Facebook information might be used in this way.   The South Texas D.A. has decided his offices will be using Facebook profiles (those that are made available to the public by the Facebook user) when making decisions about who will serve on juries. 

That sure is a lot more than the standard, traditional information provided:  attorneys usually get limited personal information regarding a jury panel — name, home address, children, religion, and employer.

How much the District Attorney gets to learn about those called to jury duty down in Brownsville isn’t set in stone, of course.  What he and his team will discover depends upon what the individual’s chosen privacy settings.  The prosecutor is not allowed to circumvent those settings.   Still, lots of people showing up for jury duty may not think about their Facebook privacy settings before they’re called to be potential jurors — and there may be tons of personal information they might not like the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office sniffing through

This is not going to stop with Brownsville.  And, it’s not going to stop with the District Attorney’s Office.  If there is information on your Facebook page that you don’t want the government to know about — set up those privacy settings.  Or better yet, don’t put it on your Facebook page in the first place. 

Why? Apparently, there are sites online that explain how anyone can circumvent those Facebook privacy settings — have been for years now — and read all your stuff anyway.  Food for thought.

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