Though the US Justice Department thinks the Drug Enforcement Agency has the right to impersonate people on Facebook for “law enforcement purposes”, Facebook sure would like them to stop.
Facebook has sent a pointed letter to DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart asking that the DEA “cease all activities on Facebook that involve the impersonation of others.”
“Facebook is a community where people come to share and interact using their authentic identities. As our Chief Product Officer recently explained, this core principle is what differentiates Facebook from other services on the internet. And requiring people to use their real identities on Facebook is ‘the primary mechanism we have to protect millions of people every day, all around the world, from real harm.’ The DEA’s deceptive actions violate the terms and policies that govern the use of the Facebook service and undermine trust in the Facebook community.”
What deceptive actions, exactly?
Facebook’s letter stems from recent reports of highly questionable behavior by DEA agents and the case’s recent rise into the national spotlight. Earlier this month, BuzzFeed reported on Sondra Arquiett, a woman who claims DEA agents stole her identity and gave it new life on Facebook after commandeering her cellphone upon her arrest in 2010. She was subsequently sentenced to probation for a small role in the sale of drugs.
According to reports, the agents “created the fake Facebook account, posed as her, posted photos, sent a friend request to a fugitive, accepted other friend requests, and used the account ‘for a legitimate law enforcement purpose.’”
That last little bit about “legitimate law enforcement purposes” comes from the Justice Department, who is standing by the DEA’s actions.
This is the story with which Facebook has framed its letter.
“Most fundamentally, the DEA’s actions threaten the integrity of our community. Facebook strives to maintain a safe, trusted environment where people can engage in authentic interactions with the people they know and meet in real life. Using Facebook to impersonate other abuses that trust and makes people feel less safe and secure when using our service,” says Facebook.
Of course, the creation of fake accounts is 100 percent prohibited by the company’s terms of service.
Facebook is asking the DEA to confirm that it has stopped any such impersonation tactics.
Image via DEA, Twitter