Currently, Facebook is demanding for the Los Angeles Police Department to stop utilizing Instagram in order to conduct surveillance on the social media platform’s users. According to Facebook, the use of fake names and profiles is against guidelines, and they’ve addressed a letter to LAPD’s chief dictating the necessitated changes. Presently, it’s unknown what the response will be and what leverage Facebook has to uphold its demands.
According to BBC and The Guardian, the police department has been working with a tech firm in order to analyze user data and solve crimes, as well as find potential future offenders. Additionally, the LAPD has instructional documents using “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’” wrote Facebook’s vice president and deputy general counsel for civil rights Roy Austin in [the] letter outlining Facebook’s policies, addressed to LAPD chief Michel Moore. Although, LAPD does have policies that outline restrictions on other social media practices. Regardless, others are citing evidence that the use of these sorts of software appear to be inherently racist and against the protection of particular activist groups.
The New York Post and the NYU Law School Institute describe these sorts of practices as potentially unconstitutional, with the institute claiming that LAPD may be infringing on “First Amendment protected activities.”
The main tech firm being discussed appears to be Voyager Labs, according to New York’s Brennan Center of Justice. The center shows that, since 2019, Voyager has been using social media surveillance software to collect and analyze data from social media to help solve crimes. Apparently, this includes looking at friends’ accounts, discerning user beliefs, and finding out potential motives. However, it’s not clear if the LAPD used Voyager’s fake profile features when they were working together.
According to Daily Mail, Voyager’s software has been used in the surveillance of more than 500 social media accounts and gone through thousands of user messages. And the scraping service has the ability to let officers use accounts that have already connected with active users that are active targets. This appears to include social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, as well as Telegram. Apparently, these connections with active targets allow the software to work better because “engaged in their hearts” social media users have their ideologies more easily discerned. Some would liken these features to “active monitoring,” just online where users may expect a certain level of privacy.
Despite the fact that Facebook claims to have intended Instagram to be safe and self-policing, others are not so sure about it’s apparent double standards in gauging what fake accounts deserve to be taken down. Robert Potter, an Australian security expert specialising in lawful surveillance, thinks false profiles can be justified in circumstances where people are seeking to protect their privacy online, or for users in countries where the internet is censored heavily. Additionally, Potter’s statement expresses surprise at the strong stance against LAPD when stances have been significantly weaker against political ads, scams, and negative effects on users.
This is not the first time Facebook has requested a Police Department to stop using its platform for surveillance, as the company reached out with a similar request in Memphis, Tennessee. But this doesn’t mean that LAPD is without fault, as it has also been criticized for asking officers to remove criminals’ and witness’ social media handles. Apparently, this has been in practice since 2015.
The post Facebook Demanding LAPD to stop using Fake Profiles appeared first on Personal Injury Lawyer Los Angeles CA.