back to article Prisoners chucked off Facebook

The Home Secretary reports he's successfully asked Facebook to pull 30 pages owned by prison inmates, but promises that better cavity searches will address the problem in future. The comments came during a meeting with campaigners arguing for better victims' rights, as reported by the BBC, during which Jack Straw described the …


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  1. Pax

    Airport scanners at the prisons.

    If it is good enough for non-criminal members of the public who fly, then it should be good enough for the criminal's visitors.

    Yes I realise that sometimes the phones get inside by workers at the prison, but there isn't any reason why they should not go through them either, as their personal posessions are stored the "safe" side of the prison anyway.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      maybe ...

      ... the scanners aren't all that reliable ?

  2. Lionel Baden


    If only they has something like a body scanner !!!!

    then they could scan all prisoners with ease ....

  3. David Edwards

    Hang on

    I was mulling over all sorts of slightly technical issues around detection then it occurred to me.

    Where and how do they charge their phones? I can imagine someone smuggling a phone in up thier bum, but a charger whit a 3 pin plug (OW!)

    Do they have mains outlets in their cells? how about restricting those then?

    1. Velv
      Paris Hilton

      not thinking laterally

      Visitors just bring in a freshly charged battery every few weeks :)

      Smaller than the original phone, and no sharp pins.

      Paris? She doesn't need to worry about chargers or fresh batteries (or even recycling them at the nearest Supermarket)

      1. LinkOfHyrule

        Then I hope Nokia don't need to do another recall

        Can you imagine - Jail widows spontaneously exploding while in the visitors room!

        I'd like to see someone smuggle in an iPad (eww maybe not) there's bound to be a few Mac fanbios banged up so you never know!

    2. Andy ORourke

      Of course they have mains.......

      How else do they powere the telly?

    3. SirTainleyBarking
      Paris Hilton

      A small Nokia or folding motorola

      Kept in the "Back pocket" is one thing, but god forbid that someone decided to become a fan of Apple equipment.

      An iPhone would certainly be an eye watering experience, and not just because of the price.

      As for an iPad? Well lets just not dwell too hard on that please.

  4. James Micallef Silver badge

    Massive FAIL

    No one has teh right to have your account on facebook or any other website pulled because you're in prison. Being in prison is the punishment that has been given by society, and that should be the end of it. What the home sec really should be doing is making sure the lags do not have intenet access at the HMguv Hilton, but apparently this seems too much of a chore.

    Typical socialist, privatising losses

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Fail yourself

      It's about mobile access these days, not Internet access. The fact is that these pages are being used to taunt and harass their victims, compounding and continuing the original crime, and of course it has to be stopped. As the victim of a campaign of threatened violence myself I can understand that - my particular episode dates back over 2 years and I'm still looking over my shoulder on a daily basis.

      If it were about using Failbook to apologise and make amends in some way that would be very different. But, look... In the same way that the dullard threatening me was stupid enough to start via text message, thus providing eveidence against himself, these monkeybrains are providing their own evidence of Malicious Communication, and should therefore be prosecuted and have their sentences increased. Preferably to 100 years or so.

    2. Annihilator Silver badge

      Padlock for barn door

      By your logic, whenever a prisoner escapes, the prisons should concentrate all their resources on making it harder to escape - and give no concern to getting the prisoner back. Or, to put it another way, buying a massive padlock after the horse has bolted.

      The point of this story is that despite the virtual prison walls, some prisoners virtually escape. Of course they'll try to make that harder to do (which the article actually says), but they also have to mop up the mess left behind.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Dead Vulture


      Urm, massive fail to you for failing to understand what prison is... it's designed to remove your freedoms. You do not have the freedom to interact with the public, and that should also include via the internet, as well as by phone and in person. That's the whole point.

      On another note, I'm interested why you (the Reg) don't find a murder clearly expressing desires to 'mute' and 'delete' people offensive? Clearly s/he's taken it so far to ensure the deletion of a person before, and that s/he expresses intent to do it again is offensive. Well, ok, maybe not offensive, but disturbing at least.

      RIP Reg icon, well, because I'm sure they wouldn't like to be deleted!

    4. Liz 1

      Massive Fail?

      So your position is that we all have a fundamental human right to be on facebook, which cannot be removed by being in prison?

      But our "right" to have access to the internet is NOT absolute, but can be suspended by the government?


    5. blackworx

      Privatising Losses

      Never mind the rest of your post, this:

      "Typical socialist, privatising losses"

      Is just ignorant pish.

      Get back under your bridge.

    6. Snert Lee

      rights for those convicted of wrongs

      Your mileage may vary, especially when measured in kilometers, but anyways...

      But around here, if your convicted of a felony, you don't have much in the way of rights. Depending on the state you're in, this condition can persist for a number of years even after the sentence is served, until a formal process for the restoration of rights has been performed.

  5. Shonko Kid

    Perhaps I missed the point of prison..

    But surely it's to remove people from society? That must also cover virtual society aswell, otherwise it's just a holiday camp!

  6. avatastic
    Big Brother

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

    "set[ing] up a better system with Facebook, so essentially if they get a notice... all they have to do is not make a judgement about it, just press the delete button."

    Because that would never be abused, or used incorrectly?

  7. JimC


    Why on earth shouldn't they get facebook accounts pulled, whether they are updating them or not. One of the points of gaol is to remove the from society. If you can't take the consequences don't do the crime...

    1. Anonymous Coward


      the accounts contravened *Facebooks* AUP. All HMG diod was draw their attention to it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, and while we're at it

      We should burn their address books too.

    3. ravenviz

      Re: @Micallef

      I think you're right, if people didn't know they couldn't get facebook in prison I am sure they'll think twice before committing a crime and maybe decide that life without facebook simply would not be worth living.

    4. Throatwobbler Mangrove
      Big Brother


      "Why on earth shouldn't they get facebook accounts pulled, whether they are updating them or not. One of the points of gaol is to remove the from society. If you can't take the consequences don't do the crime..."

      This is my question too, except from the other direction.

      To deal with the second scenario first: prisoners' Facebook accounts should not be cancelled if they're in prison and not updating them unless the court has ordered their cancellation or Facebook exercises a contractual right to cancel them (and that will depend on the TOS/contract between FB and the luser, obviously). The state can't just go around ordering destruction of stuff ultra vires just 'cos its owners are in prison. But if the court were entitled to order the cancellation and actually did so, then fine.

      In the first scenario: if the prisoners' pages are being updated. Well, on one hand, it does seem to suggest they're accessing them from inside prison, probably from a phone, which is apparently common and against prison regs. But OTOH it's not necessarily a safe assumption: what if Knuckles McGee has just given his girlfriend Ida his Facebook password and tells her "tell everyone I'm down but not out" during her visit to the Scrubs? No criminal offence there, surely?

      In the BBC article: "[Straw] said it might be possible to change the rules under which prisoners are freed on parole and temporary licence, to make it "explicit" that they cannot make use of sites in this way." Well...if the terms of the licence/parole don't prohibit using Facebook, and if the messages aren't harassing/intimidating, then what's the problem? And if they are harassing/intimidating, then they're already illegal. And if it's in breach of their licence/parole, then it can be yanked, so...?

      1. A J Stiles

        No criminal offence, but two violations of AUP

        "what if Knuckles McGee has just given his girlfriend Ida his Facebook password and tells her 'tell everyone I'm down but not out' during her visit to the Scrubs? No criminal offence there, surely?"

        Maybe no criminal offence, but giving someone else your password is an AUP violation. Using someone else's password is also a violation of AUP, even though the courts have decided that it's not forgery.

        1. Throatwobbler Mangrove
          Thumb Up

          fair enough

          "Maybe no criminal offence, but giving someone else your password is an AUP violation."

          Good point. Not exactly sure if the best use of HM Prison Service's time is to enforce AUPs in the absence of threats/harassment (and if there were threats/harassment, then etc etc) but certainly the contractual basis for Facebook to terminate the account would be there going by what you're saying. And in fact I would assume (I'm not a user, I don't know) in practice that FB would have structured its AUP to enable them to terminate anyone's account any time they wanted. The real question is when and why should the state get involved.

  8. Stephen 5

    The simple solution...

    Take internet away from Prisoners, they are serving a debt to society so shouldn't have access to it while inside.

    No internet, no facebook.

    1. Mark Serlin

      Now you can get Failbook on your mobile!

      Dude, it's about mobile access, not Internet access!

  9. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Do Not Call

    I assume that there were specifIc unmentioned unpleasant pieces of content that justified removing these social pages. "I wish I had a remote control to mute people. Instead, I kill." Or, "I wish I had a remote control to mute people. In particular, Mr Peter Stewart, of Caltonhill, Glasgow; Miss Gail McCulloch, of Rutherglen; and my mum. You know why. Oh, and Jonathan Ross on BBC 1, but in that case I actually do."

  10. Winkypop Silver badge

    Fairs fair!

    Let's have mandatory cavity searches for ALL FaceBook users!

    It's only right.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Golin Cunn is....

    ..murdering, evil, scum.

    AC for very very obvious reasons.

    In fact, if you could remove all trace of me from your logs, El Reg, that'd be much appreciated too.

  12. Graham Marsden

    "Facebook [...] if they get a notice... "

    "all they have to do is not make a judgement about it, just press the delete button."

    Yep, don't worry about checking the details, just do what you're told! (I bet the RIAA, MPAA, PRS and all the others would love that too...)

    PS "he'd like a remote control which could mute, or delete, people", well I can think of a few people I'd like to mute or even delete too. Does that make me a suspect...?

  13. Tom Smith 1 Silver badge

    Works both ways

    If a prisoner can post how (s)he is doing on facebook, what's to stop everyone else from posting what a lovely time they're having whilst not being in prison?

    A couple of weeks of everyone pointing out how nice it is not to have bars on their windows, and that they can just pop down the pub when they feel like it (and if they want to use the phone they don't have to smuggle it into the house up their bum), and surely the most hardened of crims will start to feel a bit down about this facebook thing.

  14. Jess

    Surely not to hard to stop?

    Put 3 small mobile masts around each prison. All phones within the prison would get emergency service only which would be directed to the main comms room of the prison (so visitors or staff in trouble could call for help.)

    And as for facebook, perhaps they should implement a policy that anyone posting from prison should have their account deleted.

  15. A J Stiles

    If they can't keep the phones out, keep the signal out

    If they can't keep the phones out of prisons, then they could at least make an effort to keep the *signals* out and so render the phones useless.

    Why don't they put Faraday cages around prison buildings?

    Or, why can't the Home Office -- who I believe are responsible for both prisons and licencing radio transmitting apparatus -- authorise the use of mobile phone jammers in prisons?

    For that matter, why are the mobile networks even siting masts within range of prisons? Most of them aren't in densely-populated areas .....

    1. Semihere

      Erm... FAIL! LOL

      "For that matter, why are the mobile networks even siting masts within range of prisons? Most of them aren't in densely-populated areas ....."

      How about Strangeways, in the middle of Manchester. Or Feltham nick, in the middle of a suburban part of south west London? ;)

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Caught with a mobile phone in prison?

    There's a simple yet effective punishment for that. Cut their hands off.

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Caught with a mobile phone in prison?

      A wishy-washy liberal writes!

  17. JohnG Silver badge

    Alternative to jamming

    Why not have some local base stations to provide coverage in the prison - and take the traffic through some filtering and maybe add some honeypots. That might yield some useful information and you could even use data from the base stations to pinpoint the location of attached mobiles. Maybe even get the network operators to charge access at a special higher rate to make their credit disappear faster. Staff and local residents mobiles could be excluded from special treatment on a case by case basis.

  18. Spleen
    Thumb Up

    Great idea

    The more effort that plod and the screws put in to ensuring small-time scum aren't using phones to post silly messages on the Internet (which their victims don't have to read, even if a gutter-crawling journalist tells them to so they can take a photo of their shocked, tear-stained expression), the less time they spend harrassing the proper criminals using phones to run their business interests from inside.

    The Daily Heil and their polit friends get to pretend they've achieved something, important criminals can carry on their business, actual crime increases, which gives the Daily Heil more to write about, and the rest of us can just take our daily dose of watered-down methadone and shut the fuck up. It's win-win!

  19. James Micallef Silver badge

    missing the point

    Most of you replying to my post are missing its point, so I will explain myself better. Facebook, and indeed any form of web presence is not a right, and should indeed be withheld from prisoners who are serving a sentence. I have no complaints about that, and I agree that convicted criminals serving their sentence should not be able to have a presence in virtual society. BUT there is a difference between denying someone access to his online accounts for the duration of their jail term, and deleting those accounts completely. The only reason the latter is being resorted to instead of the former is the prison system's incapability of dealing with a simple problem.

    The prison authorities should block mobile and internet access to inmates ie do the job they're paid to do in the first place instead of asking private companies to clear up their mess after the fact. Or to use the horse - barn door - padlock metaphor used above - yes they certainly should go running after the horse that has bolted, BUT they should also get a padlock for the horses still in the stable, which is currently not happening.

    In the specific cases mentioned of for example threatening posts, the account can be deleted by Facebook under their normal terms of service, without needing a request from the police

  20. lukewarmdog

    Prisoners! Using! Facebook!

    Someone advise Straw to close down Facebook.

    He just might be stupid enough to agree to it.

  21. Martin 19

    But how do you jailbreak an Iphone in jail???

    That is the question

  22. Throatwobbler Mangrove
    Big Brother

    are you sure?

    "why are the mobile networks even siting masts within range of prisons? Most of them aren't in densely-populated areas ....."

    Are you sure about that? I am not an expert by any means but looking at the list of prisons in E&W here: I see a lot of places which I know are built-up areas. Brixton, Wandsworth, Wormwood, Strangeways, Leeds. Bar-L and Saughton are right in the middle of town too. Mind you, I have no idea where Verne, Askham Grange and Bullwood Hall are (they all sound quite posh and rural ;) ) so maybe you're right.

    But there aren't a lot of places in England that aren't built-up areas - or at least, really rural - any more, and still fewer that aren't already in range of mobile phone masts (that weren't necessarily built to service a prison alone anyway). See here: And then when Wimax takes off, what?

  23. Calhoun


    Phones, internet access should not be allowed in prisons.

    You don't have to bother finding them you just put an electronic block on the whole building.

  24. mark l 2 Silver badge

    charging the phones

    After speaking to someone i know who did a short stretch in HMP forest bank he said that mobile phones were pretty common place in prisons and they can charge them by taking the front panel of the TV in their cell and attaching a couple of wires from the standby LED to the battery of the phone.

    I think blocking the mobile signals is the only way to stop them using mobiles in prison

  25. Anonymous Coward


    It's common knowledge that bombs and weapons can be concealed in very small things these days. It's also seemingly common knowledge that drugs and phones are getting into prison. Terrorists who are quite happy to cause a mass amount of damage are also being put in prisons, are they not?

    Does this not strike anyone as slightly alarming?

    As for prisons, they are a joke. Whether they have internet or phones aside, they have TVs and pool tables, etc. They get food and a roof over their head. FFS. Should put them in something like season 3 of Prison Break, simple as that. Should be some walls, a hole in the ground, cold water and base rations. That's it.

    There should be an electromagnetic jobba that blocks all electronic devices.

    Criminals have it easy. If they get caught and if don't get off on some technicality and if they end up having to go to jail, it's no biggie for them really.

    Nothing will change though as I fail to see any government taking control that will have the guts to make the sort of changes needed.

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