According to documents obtained through the Canadian Access to Information Act, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) used a fake Facebook profile to spy on more than two-dozen organizations in Toronto.
The profile, which went under the name “Bebop Arooney,” tracked a variety of groups, including Jewish and Palestinian organizations, Black Lives Matter Toronto, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and more. The RCMP confirmed that they made the fake profile, though they denied using it for spying.
“The (Facebook) account mentioned was opened in 2005 for operational reasons, and since that time, the RCMP’s social media practices have changed and evolved and now we used an official media account for such purposes,” a spokesperson said. “The Facebook account is historical and no longer relevant.”
However, despite this assertion, documents obtained by the Toronto Star included a screenshot showing that someone had accessed the profile as recently as April 13, 2015.
In addition to the ethical questions surrounding this policing technique, there’s also the fact that it breaks Facebook’s own rules. The site does not permit any kind of bogus profile on its pages—even ones from law enforcement.
It sadly isn’t surprising that this kind of police work is happening, though hopefully Facebook wises up to the strategy and gives these imposter profiles the boot.