The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) tracked Philadelphia protesters using their Instagram and other social media platforms, charging them with the arson of two police cars.
According to The Independent’s latest report, FBI used information from social media platforms including Instagram, LinkedIn, and Etsy to track down a woman who allegedly set fire to two police cars during the protests in Philadelphia.
Amid Black Lives Matter protests on May 30, Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal allegedly set two police cars on fire and was charged with arson on Wednesday, June 17, as announced by the prosecutors. The woman was identified by the FBI using a number of open-source information, and taking only a few days for investigators to track the woman down to make an arrest.
According to NBC Philadelphia’s report, the investigators tracked Blumenthal down through videos of protests, social media, together with her tattoos and t-shirt detailed by a criminal complaint against the 33-year-old woman.
“We at the US Attorney’s Office fully support the First Amendment right of the people to assemble peaceably and to petition their government. But torching a police car has nothing to do with peaceful protest or any legitimate message,” said US attorney William McSwain.
FBI agents first identified the protester through a video posted on Vimeo, and by watching aerial footage of the protests in Philadelphia. This was detailed by an affidavit signed by one of the agents involved in the case.
After obtaining amateur photographs of the protests from Instagram, the agent claimed that they were able to determine that the woman involved was wearing a “Keep the immigrants, deport the racists” t-shirt.
The FBI was able to identify that a user located in Philadelphia had left a review of the product after tracking down the slogan t-shirt to a seller on Etsy. Also, a “peace” sign tattoo on the woman’s forearm in some of the images in social media was identified by the investigators as stated in the affidavit.
It was reported that the investigators were able to acquire the username “lore-Elisabeth’ after searching the username of the Etsy reviewer online. The agents cross-referenced videos on a LinkedIn page for a woman who worked as a massaged therapist for a company in Philadelphia with the tattoo they had previously identified after searching for “Lore Elisabeth Philadelphia”.
Using the website which was then cross-checked with the Pennsylvania DMV to find the address of the 33-year-old woman in the photo, the FBI was able to obtain a phone number for Ms. Blumenthal. A subpoena to the Etsy seller also determined that the name of the user that the t-shirt was shipped to.
Rather than being dealt with by local officials, just like other similar cases regarding the protests in Philadelphia, the lawyer of Ms. Blumenthal said that he was concerned that the prosecutors will charge Blumenthal in federal court.