Police Create Fake Profiles on Facebook and Attempt to Build Relationships Along With Monitor Your Friends and Events
Police departments around the nation have taken predictive crime prevention to a new level by building fake user accounts, as well as posing as genuine people to gather information about local events, Tech.Mic reports.
Local agents put on a “digital mask” and pose as “members of the community,” allowing them to gather personal information about suspects they consider a high risk of being involved in a future crime or have existing charges.
In a social media guide for law enforcement officials published by the Justice Department, the document details, officers create fraudulent profiles even though Facebook officially bans the practice.
Departments are also beginning to use predictive analytical policing software, allowing authorities to patrol local neighborhoods based on social networking posts. If people are emotionally upset and publish it on social media networks, the software program labels the neighborhood high risk alerting law enforcement to occupy those area’s.
In a recent article published by Business Insider one police officer answered a LexisNexis survey that he “was looking for a suspect related to drug charges for over a month. When I looked him up on Facebook and requested him as a friend from a fictitious profile, he accepted,” and “he kept ‘checking in’ everywhere he went, so I was able to track him down very easily.”
Another respondent wrote, “Social media is a valuable tool because you are able to see the activities of a target in his comfortable stage. Targets brag and post … information in reference to travel, hobbies, places visited, appointments, circle of friends, family members, relationships, actions, etc.”
Out of 1,221 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies that use social media today, more than 80% of the responding officials said social media was a powerful tool for crime-fighting and that “creating personas or profiles on social media outlets for use in law enforcement activities is ethical.”
The NYPD has even gone to the extreme to use photos of young attractive women on Facebook to spy on gang members, the New York Times reported.
No one seems to know if agencies use these photos with or without the consent of the person photographed.
Bradley Shear, an attorney and expert in social media and the law is not quite sure how the justice system will handle challenges made to this style of policing, however noting that “police often pose as prostitutes or drug dealers to catch criminals.”