The Facebook legal team has asked the Memphis Police Department to cease using fake accounts.
In a letter dated September 19th, Andrea Kirkpatrick, Facebook’s director and associate general counsel of security, told MPD Director Michael Rallings that the department's activities violate Facebook’s terms of service.
“The Police Department should cease all activities on Facebook that involve the use of fake accounts or impersonation of others,” the letter reads in part. “People come to Facebook to connect and share with real people using their authentic identities.”
The letter says that MPD violated the Community Standards of Facebook, which prohibits engaging in inauthentic behavior, including creating and managing fake or misleading accounts.
“Facebook has made clear that law enforcement authorities are subject to these policies,” the letter continues. “We regard this activity as a breach of Facebook’s terms and policies, and as such we have disabled the fake accounts that we identified in our investigation.”
This comes as U.S. District Judge Jon McCalla decides what sanctions, if any, MPD will see as a result of possibly violating a 1978 consent decree, prohibiting police from gathering political surveillance.
In court last month, MPD’s Sgt. Timothy Reynolds admitted to creating and maintaining the undercover Bob Smith account, which friended and monitored over 200 activists.
The information gathered through the Bob Smith account was used to monitor the organizers of protests that MPD thought could be a threat to safety, Reynolds said in court.
According the the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who published the letter, Facebook has since deleted six fake accounts operated by MPD.