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Social media

Meta didn’t inform members of a Facebook group that a killer was stalking them

Your online accounts are always at risk from hackers, but sometimes you won’t even know that you’ve been compromised. Tap or click here to check if anyone has access to your Facebook, Google or Netflix accounts.

It’s not just privacy and personal information at risk when you’re on social media. Criminals of all types troll these platforms looking for victims, sometimes with deadly intentions.

You won’t believe what happened with what started as an innocent mom group on Facebook. It led to murder. But that’s not even the entire story.

Here’s the backstory

People form groups on Facebook to share common interests, keep in touch with friends and family, meet neighbors and buy and sell goods.

One group was created for northwest Arkansas moms to exchange children’s items. Seems harmless enough, right? Wholesome, even. But you never know who’s lurking out there, especially when the group consists of 6,500 members.

Forbes reports that one group member, Kelly (not her real name), was looking for some baby items and made contact with a member named Lucy Barrow. Lucy told Kelly they could meet to discuss the items, but Kelly felt something was off.

It turns out that Lucy’s profile was fake. The person behind the profile was likely Amber Waterman, an alleged killer who targeted pregnant women.

The victim

Waterman used the group to contact expectant mother Ashley Bush, whom she allegedly kidnapped and murdered, hiding the body. Waterman also removed Bush’s baby from the womb and surrendered it to first responders.

Waterman was arrested and pleaded not guilty in December 2022. Her trial begins in June this year.

Nobody knew

While the murder made national headlines, most group members weren’t aware that Waterman had infiltrated their group and murdered one of their members. The FBI obtained data from Facebook related to the group, including posts, photos and videos, and information on the people who created the forum.

Meta sent the FBI everything they requested within a day of the signed search warrant. And yet, nobody in the group was informed about any of this.

Forbes told one of the group administrators about Waterman and the FBI’s search through the group data, and she said she wasn’t aware of it at all. Nor were most of the other members.

Meta did tell the group creator about the investigation, but that was it.

According to the warrant, the government had searched the fake Barrow account and had evidence that Waterman had committed the murder. Authorities found blood in her car and interviewed Waterman’s husband, who said his wife admitted to killing Bush. The husband allegedly helped to burn and hide the body but is pleading not guilty.

The Department of Justice would not comment on why it needed to search the group after obtaining all this information and evidence.

RELATED: 5 social media dos and don’ts to protect your privacy and security

There’s only one way to protect yourself from Facebook

Meta knew the feds were investigating the group and only told one person. Why wasn’t the rest of the group informed about the killer and that their data was being collected?

You must be extra careful when interacting with strangers on social media. What could be more innocent than a group for moms to exchange strollers and high chairs? In this case, it led to a death and invasion of privacy.

Facebook has been caught playing fast and loose with customer data countless times, and let’s not forget about all the data breaches.

Aside from being careful what you share, you should change your privacy settings to keep information from Facebook itself. Tap or click here to tweak your privacy settings.

If you want to be safe from Facebook, delete your account. But don’t forget to take your stuff with you! Tap or click here for instructions on importing your data and deleting Facebook.

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