Not necessarily a sign of widespread social media surveillance, but you still have to wonder how the state of Delaware's Attorney General's office managed to come across a comment referring to some St. Patrick's Day-related NSFWing, much less pursue one unlucky commenter who made a joke about one of the participants being his "sister."
Here's a link to the photo which kicked off the unlikely chain of events. It depicts two green-clad people, presumably of consenting age, expressing their love in a physical manner. Needless to say, probably, very definitely NSFW.
Redditor un1cornbl00d received notice from Reddit that the Delaware DOJ had served a subpoena demanding the platform turn over his personal information, along with "all posts, responses and their content" related to the original submission. (Found here, with comments now deleted).
*DO NOT NOTIFY CUSTOMER*
PLEASE DO NOT DISCLOSE OR NOTIFY THE USER OF THE ISSUANCE OF THIS SUBPOENA.
DISCLOSURE TO THE USER COULD IMPEDE AN INVESTIGATION OR OBSTRUCT JUSTICE.
Well, if you seriously believe an investigation might be "impeded" or "obstructed," you might want to put with more legal weight than a caps lock key behind it. Most court orders don't say "please," and most court orders point out the legal reasons for the demand. This subpoena tries to demand compliance with shouty typing.
Apparently, this is the way things are done at Joe Biden Jr.'s office. Another subpoena sent late last year
demanding that Facebook turn over information on the "owner" of a small (~300 likes at the time subpoena was issued) page with an anti-government slant contained similar all-caps demands for keeping everything a secret… which was also ignored.
*SUBSCRIBER IS NOT TO BE NOTIFIED OR MADE AWARE OF THIS INVESTIGATION*
Seeing as the subpoena was posted by the page being investigated
, Facebook also has little respect for slightly larger letters with no legal weight behind them.
So, why would a "special investigator" at the state DA's office be interested in a tossed-off comment on a photo of two people having sex out in the open? Well, as far as anyone can theorize, whoever's monitoring social media for the Delaware DOJ (or the entities that feed into it) must have thought unic0rnbl00d was the rarest of creatures on the internet: someone who only tells the truth, and if so, was hoping to bust his "sister" (and possibly Joe Random Stranger as well). Quotes from police "investigating" the sex that two (probably inebriated) people momentarily enjoyed confirm that the force was indeed looking to slap these two with some sort of charge
. (Link contains photo -- NSFW)
[T]he police are investigating the pair on suspicion of lewd conduct. A Newark Police spokesman said the couple was "engaging in sexual intercourse in public in plain view of numerous passersby."
Why the hell the state is so interested in punishing people for consensual acts performed in the past is beyond me, other than that pervasive belief that the word "justice" means no one getting away with anything ever
. I would think whatever nearly-nonexistent tarnishing of state pride would pale in comparison to the state now being viewed as overreaching busybodies after sending subpoenas to track down an internet commenter and targeting people engaged in First Amendment activities. The latter subpoena is vastly more concerning, as it shows the state attempting to sniff out people with anti-government sentiments. Sure, the page may
contain the word "riot," but the full title of the group is "Peaceful Rioters For Wilmington, Delaware."
Again, these may not be signs of active social media monitoring, but this sort of behavior certainly doesn't reflect well on those in the Delaware law enforcement community. I can only assume the state has run out of real crime or other pressing issues and is now just creating busywork for its special investigators.