Law and Legal

Facebook cracking down on police using fake profiles to detect illegal activity

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Facebook does not like law enforcement using fake profiles to monitor illegal activity. They’ve taken steps to notify the Memphis Police Department of their displeasure, which they emphasize is in violation of the terms and policies of the social media giant.

At the center of attention is a fake profile that was created by the Memphis Police Department to “friend” and keep tabs on BLM activists, a disclosure that was revealed as part of legal action against the police department, reported New York Post.

News accounts about that revelation were how Facebook itself found out about the practice and why the company in recent days sent a letter to the city’s police chief directly warning him — stop doing that.

“We regard this activity as a breach of Facebook’s terms and policies and as such we have disabled the fake accounts that we identified in our investigation,” reads a letter from Andrea Kirkpatrick, Facebook’s director and associate general counsel. It was sent to Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings.

“Disabled” was a reference to the social networking giant apparently deactivating a total of seven Facebook profiles related to this effort. “We request that the (Memphis) police department, its members and any others acting on its behalf cease all activities on Facebook that involve impersonation or that otherwise violate our policies,” Kirkpatrick’s letter continues.

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According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, this episode out of Memphis appears to have spurred Facebook to update its “Information for Law Enforcement Authorities”page to make it clear that the company’s misrepresentation policy also applies to police.

The policy reads, in part:

“People on Facebook are required to use the name they go by in everyday life and must not maintain multiple accounts. Operating fake accounts, pretending to be someone else, or otherwise misrepresenting your authentic identity is not allowed and we will act on violating accounts.”

Here’s the full letter Facebook sent to the Memphis police chief. The efforts of Memphis police stem from the department’s aggressive tracking of protests over nationwide police shootings and related acts.

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Related:

Presumably, this won’t stop law enforcement from continuing to use social media platforms to track people — they’ll just be more clever about it because the criminal cases that are developed are enormous. For instance, sexual predators are frequently unveiled by use of fictitious online social media accounts. To halt this practice means child sex predators may continue uninhibited. But apparently Facebook is not interested in teaming with law enforcement in these endeavors because the same techniques are used to “spy” on radical anti-police movements like BLM?

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Author
LET Staff

The staff of Law Enforcement Today is compiled of career cops. Cumulatively we possess nearly a century of experience in the business of police work. Our backgrounds derive from the East Coast, West Cost, South and Upper Midwest. Moreover, we connect with our readers through social media everyday. As a result, we have our finger on the pulse of American law enforcement.

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