Google throwing Jussie Smollett under the bus

If alleged hate crime hoaxer Jussie Smollett thought his troubles in Chicago were behind him he is likely mistaken. This case isn’t over yet and a Cook County judge has appointed a special prosecutor to look into the events leading up to the supposed hate crime involving the former Empire actor. As part of that effort, the judge has ordered Google to turn over all of Smollett’s emails, including any drafts and deleted messages, as well as his phone records. The judge also ordered the release of the same records for the actor’s manager, an alleged witness to the events. As the Washington Examiner’s Eddie Scarry points out, this means that Smollett is probably “toast” at this point.

Actor Jussie Smollett, aka “the gay Tupac,” almost certainly lied about the assault he claims he experienced last year. A new order from a judge in Chicago will likely prove it once and for all.

Cook County Judge Michael Toomin, who appointed a special prosecutor to look into the case, is requiring Google to turn over a year’s worth of Smollett’s emails, location data, and messages. He’s also ordered the same for Smollett’s manager, a witness to the alleged hate crime, wherein Smollett says he was jumped early one morning by two men who confronted him with racist, anti-gay, and pro-Trump comments before beating him.

The Chicago Tribune reported last week that the court orders include that Google hand over “drafted and deleted messages; any files in their Google Drive cloud storage services; any Google Voice texts, calls and contacts; search and web browsing history.”

The order also requires the surrender of any voice texts, calls and contact list entries. Assuming that Smollett maintains even a normal amount of email and web activity, that’s a ton of data to sift through so we likely won’t see much more action in the case for months.

But if the events of the night in question played out in a way even close to what seems obvious to nearly everyone, Smollett is likely going to be in a lot of trouble. That supposed “hate crime” didn’t happen on the spur of the moment. Something like that needed to be planned out in advance, finding the right people to conspire with, deciding on the perfect time and location and appropriating the necessary materials.

This probably entailed any number of texts, emails and voice messages between Smollett, his manager and the two “associates” who allegedly staged the attack. And if those come to light in the expected fashion, Smollett’s goose will indeed be cooked.

This story should also serve as your periodic reminder that anything and everything you do on the web pretty much lives forever. If we assume that Smollett uses Gmail as his email platform (as roughly one-quarter of the people on the planet do), Google doesn’t just have his currently saved emails tucked away on their servers. They’ve got everything he ever sent or received for a period of years, including drafts that were saved even if they were never sent.

Perhaps even more frightening, as the Examiner points out, is the fact that Google’s ability to track your location 24/7 is also stored and it’s alarmingly specific and accurate. That information could also reveal if Smollett was fibbing about any of his travels and meetings related to the supposed hate crime.

I can attest to the claims about location tracking. I was swallowed up by the Goggleplex years ago, for better or worse, and at one point I signed up to be a “local guide” since I tend to write Google reviews for most of the places I visit. I’ll confess to being regularly alarmed when I started receiving unsolicited notifications from Google saying, “did you want to review your visit to the XYZ bakery last Tuesday afternoon or upload the photos you took there?” And it would turn out that I had indeed been to that bakery and taken a couple of pictures to share.

Granted, 99% of the time there’s probably nothing nefarious going on. It’s just Google’s automated system hoping to build up user data to share with other people searching for things to do in any given town. But it’s still pretty creepy. That creepiness factor is going to go through the roof for Smollett, however, assuming he’s guilty of what many people suspect he is.