Within the last week, Facebook, now known as Meta, sent the Los Angeles Police Department a cease and desist letter stating that the law enforcement agency’s practice of creating fake accounts to spy on people violates its terms and policies.
According to the NY Post, lawyers demanded the Department stop creating “fake (or dummy) accounts” to “impersonate legitimate users.”
The letter was issued after a report was issued by NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice that detailed the Department encouraged officers to collect social media information from suspects by spying on them through fake accounts.
The Brennan Center for Justice calls the practice of spying on suspects through fake accounts as infringing on its users’ “First Amendment-protected activities” and is unconstitutional.
LAPD has not responded to the cease and desist or other media inquiries.
This isn’t the first instance of a Department using fake accounts to collect information on potential suspects. In 2018, the Memphis Police Department set up fake “Bob Smith” accounts to keep tabs on Black Lives Matter protesters. In that case, Facebook did warn MPD of the improper user of the social media platform.
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