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Facebook now caught allowing cops' fake profiles


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Facebook now has been caught allowing police officers to post fake profiles on its software while they chase criminals – even though that violates the company’s policies.

And private organizations are calling out Facebook officials regarding the issue.

Dave Maass and the Electronic Frontier Foundation explain the organization long has been critical of Facebook over its practices.

“Facebook has a problem: an infestation of undercover cops. Despite the social platform’s explicit rules that the use of fake profiles by anyone – police included – is a violation of terms of service, the issue proliferates,” the report Monday said.

“While the scope is difficult to measure, EFF has identified scores of agencies who maintain policies that explicitly flaunt these rules.”

He said one good sign is a new warning the social media giant has dispatched to the Memphis police.

Facebook’s letter to Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings, dated just days ago, said the department must “cease all activities on Facebook that involve the use of fake accounts.”

The company told police that people come to the website to interact with “authentic identities.”

“Our authenticity policies are intended to create a safe environment where people can trust and hold one another accountable. Operating fake accounts violates the terms and policies that govern the Facebook service.”

It said law enforcement also is subject to the policies.

Maass explained: “EFF has long been critical of Facebook’s policies that require users to use their real or ‘authentic’ names, because we feel that the ability to speak anonymously online is key to free speech and that forcing people to disclose their legal identities may put vulnerable users at risk. Facebook, however, has argued that this policy is needed ‘to create a safe environment where people can trust and hold one another accountable.’ As long as they maintain this position, it is crucial that they apply it evenly – including penalizing law enforcement agencies who intentionally break the rules.”

It’s not a new fight. EFF said it raised the issue several years ago when the Drug Enforcement Administration was impersonating a real user in an investigation.

Since then, police in Georgia, Nebraska, New York and Ohio have been caught making up identities.

EFF said that while the warning is helpful, it may not be enough.

“We applaud this progress, but we are also skeptical that a warning alone will deter the activity. While Facebook says it will delete accounts brought to its attention, too often these accounts only become publicly known (say in a lawsuit) long after the damage has been done and the fake account has outlived its purpose.”


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