Facebook knows it has a problem with fake accounts; last spring, the company revealed it removed 1.3 billion fake accounts over a six-month period alone. But it’s not all hackers, cybercriminals, and shady marketers who run these phony profiles. Facebook recently had to issue a warning to the Memphis Police Department to stop creating fake accounts.
According to information revealed in a civil rights lawsuit in Tennessee, the Memphis PD created what they called “Bob Smith” accounts in order to gather intelligence on activists. Facebook deleted the fake police account discovered during the trial, but soon found six other fakes managed by the Memphis cops. That’s when Facebook wrote a stern letter to the police department, informing them that law enforcement officials are not exempt from Facebook’s rules.
“Facebook has made clear that law enforcement authorities are subject to these policies… as such we have disabled the fake accounts that we identified in our investigation,” Facebook wrote in a letter to the Memphis Police Department. “We request that the 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.”
While it’s comforting to know Facebook is on the lookout for law enforcement abusing its platform, it’s scary that police want to use it for spying at all.