Undercover cops have been caught using fake Facebook accounts to spy on citizens, prompting an urgent Facebook warning.
Facebook has asked police in Los Angeles to stop using “dummy” accounts to spy on citizens.
In an open letter to the LAPD chief, Michel Moore, Meta Platforms, which owns Facebook, addressed the issue.
“According to media reports and the Brennan Center for Justice, the Los Angeles Police Department (“LAPD”) has been instructing its officers to create fake (or “dummy”) Facebook accounts and impersonate legitimate users,” the letter begins.
“Not only do LAPD instructional documents use Facebook as an explicit example in advising officers to set up fake social media accounts, but documents also indicate that LAPD policies simply allow officers to create fake accounts for “online investigative activity,” according to the documents.
This is against Facebook’s terms of service.
Meta’s demands come after The Guardian revealed that the US police department had been working with a tech firm to analyze social media data to aid in crime solving.
In 2019, the police department reportedly partnered with Voyager Labs to keep an eye on “emerging threats.”
This could have included looking at Facebook user profiles, friends, posts, and usernames, among other things.
“We believe strongly in the principle of free expression and strive to create an environment where people can act on their freedoms,” Meta writes in his letter.
“People on our platforms are free to express themselves, connect with others to promote common causes, share personal experiences, and organize First Amendment-protected activities.”
“It is our intention that they do so in an environment free of government surveillance or inauthentic agents.”
It outlines the types of behavior that are against Facebook’s rules, such as creating a fake account with a fake name and using images to deceive others.
It is also forbidden to use third parties to collect data from Facebook for surveillance purposes, according to the letter.
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