EFF to Facebook: enforce your rules banning cops from creating sockpuppet accounts and be transparent when you catch cops doing it

Dave Maass from the Electronic Frontier Foundation writes, "Facebook’s practice of taking down these individual accounts when they learn about them from the press (or from EFF) is insufficient to deter what we believe is a much larger iceberg beneath the surface. We often only discover the existence of law enforcement fake profiles months, if not years, after an investigation has concluded. These four changes are relatively light lifts that would enhance transparency and establish real consequences for agencies that deliberately violate the rules."

1. As part of its regular transparency reports, Facebook should publish data on the number of fake/impersonator law enforcement accounts identified, what agencies they belonged to, and what action was taken.

2. When a fake/impersonator account is identified, Facebook should alert the users and groups that interacted with the account whether directly or indirectly. These interactions include, but are not limited to, a friend request, Messenger messages, a comment, membership in a group, or being shown an advertisement. The user should know what agency operated the account and how long it was in operation. Facebook should also add a notification to the agency’s page informing the public that the agency is known to have created fake/impersonator law enforcement accounts.

3. Facebook should further amend its “Amended Terms for Federal, State and Local Governments in the United States” to make it explicitly clear that, by agreeing to the terms, the agency is agreeing not to operate fake/impersonator profiles on the platform. Facebook has the right to take actions in response to violation of their terms, but when they do so, Facebook should be fair and consistent with the Santa Clara Principles.

4. Facebook should review the department policies for social media use by law enforcement agencies. When law enforcement has a written policy of engaging in fake/impersonator law enforcement accounts in violation of the “Amended Terms for Federal, State and Local Governments in the United States,” Facebook should add a notification to the agency’s page to inform users of the law enforcement policy.

Four Steps Facebook Should Take to Counter Police Sock Puppets [Dave Maass/EFF Deeplinks]