US plans for fake social media run afoul of Facebook rules

WASHINGTON (AP) — Facebook said Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would be violating the company’s rules if agents create fake profiles to monitor the social media of foreigners seeking to enter the country.

“Law enforcement authorities, like everyone else, are required to use their real names on Facebook and we make this policy clear,” Facebook spokeswoman Sarah Pollack told The Associated Press in a statement Tuesday. “Operating fake accounts is not allowed, and we will act on any violating accounts.”

Pollack said the company has communicated its concerns and its policies on the use of fake accounts to DHS. She said the company will shut down fake accounts, including those belonging to undercover law enforcement, when they are reported.

The company’s statement followed the AP’s report Friday that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services had authorized its officers to use fake social media accounts in a reversal of a previous ban on the practice.

Homeland Security explained the change to the AP in a statement Friday, stating that fake accounts would make it easier for agents reviewing visa, green card and citizenship applications to search for fraud or security threats. The department didn’t provide comment when asked Tuesday.

The plan would also be a violation of Twitter’s rules. Twitter said Friday it’s still reviewing the new Homeland Security practice. It did not provide further comment.