No, The FBI Probably Isn't Looking Into Your March Madness Brackets On Facebook

from the a-little-march-madness-exaggeration dept

Every year around this time, you can be sure of two types of stories: the first will be about how much productivity is lost thanks to March Madness (NCAA basketball tournament, for those who don't know) and the second is about how the customary March Madness pools are probably illegal gambling. This year, it's been turned up a notch, thanks to reports like this one in PC World claiming that the FBI is looking into the brackets available on Facebook thanks to a CBS Sportsline app. From reading the article, you'd think that the FBI is spending valuable resources trying to track down your office pool or the pool among your college buddies. Except... the article doesn't quote anyone at the FBI or even indicate that it tried to get the FBI to comment on the matter. It merely points to a Chicago Tribune article that says Facebook may face "scrutiny," but also provides no proof. That one at least has an FBI quote, but it's clearly in response to a question from the reporter over whether or not such pools violate the law -- not about whether the FBI is actually investigating Facebook.

The PC World report also points to a blog post saying that Facebook is coming under FBI scrutiny, but again provides no proof, other than some unsourced conjecture about the FBI "loitering" around Facebook -- and another link. This one goes to a report at a site called Online Casino Reports, which also gets a quote from the FBI -- but again, it appears to be in response to a question about the legality of betting pools, but not claiming that there's any sort of ongoing investigation. While there's a chance it's happening, there seems to be a bunch of folks reporting on this with no actual evidence that the FBI is looking at this. The only quote from the FBI came from the Chicago Tribune and was clearly in response to a question about the legality of betting on March Madness, not about any investigation into Facebook. So, chances are, the FBI isn't going to burst in on Mark Zuckerberg for putting a couple bucks on North Carolina to win it all -- or on you for picking Cornell (go Big Red) to beat Stanford this Thursday in the opening round, but if you want to be safe, maybe don't bet any money on it in the first place.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Keybored, Mar 18th, 2008 @ 6:02am

    I usually let frivolous stories like this go by, but hey it's a chance to leave the first comment. I am confidant that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has much better things to do.

    At least I hope they do.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Agent Mulder, Mar 18th, 2008 @ 7:12am

    Our own pool

    We at the FBI have our own pool going. 20 dollar buy in if you are interested.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    The Angry Intern, Mar 18th, 2008 @ 7:22am


    since when are friendly bets among friends considered "illegal gambling?"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2008 @ 7:46am

    The FBI isn't investigating your Face book, but Marc Z is tracking your Bracket. In fact, he's doing it personally. Why? Because he CAN.

    There. Marc is also cannibal. A cannibal who eats children! You heard it here first. He's also going to come to your house and eat your children if you don't name your first born "Mark". Beware! And he will release the flesh eating nanobots on you and your friends on face book in 2012 if he finds your bracket distasteful. Quick, update it now!

    What college did Marc get kicked out of? Does he want them to win or loose? Please help, and respond quickly! I hear the scratching of nanobots at my door!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    theregoesdave, Mar 18th, 2008 @ 7:47am

    Probably not at what, but who?

    The FBI probably doesn't care about who you have a sports pool with, but I bet they'd love to know who else is in it with you. One of the ways they try to hunt terrorists is by looking at who associates with who...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    k1roger1979, Mar 18th, 2008 @ 8:40am

    not the government....

    If you support March Madness, then the terrorist win says Bush...
    This is ridiculous. The government is CONSTANTLY watching and trapping internet traffic. It's called the Patriot Act. They have been using myspace and others for years to figure out social circles that they have interest in.
    I think your "bracket" is the last thing to worry about.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Jake, Mar 18th, 2008 @ 11:43am

    FBI 'Scrutiny'

    It probably went a bit like this:
    "Hey, boss? I think I've found a way to catch about a million criminals!"
    "Oh really? What for?"
    "Illegal gambling. See, there's this Facebook app..."
    "Okay, I'll look into it later... Wait a second. What are they betting on, exactly?"
    "March Madness, I think."
    "You mean the same thing the whole office has a betting pool on?"
    [long pause]
    "Oh. Right."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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