Facebook Addresses Feds: Fake Profile Rules Apply To You, Too

Facebook is serious about fake profiles, even if you're a fed.

Facebook has taken some criticism for its rules about fake profiles, but privacy advocates may be pleased with the latest application of the social media site’s rules. Facebook sent a strongly-worded letter to a federal law enforcement agency, letting them know that the rules apply to them, too.

Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported on the case of a fake Facebook profile. Sondra Prince’s (sometimes referred to by her previous last name, Arquiett) phone had been seized in an investigation, and a DEA agent had used the contents to create a Facebook profile in her name, hoping to use it to ensnare other suspects.

Prince subsequently sued, but according to The Blaze, was told in court that she had no right to privacy in the photos.

Facebook, however, takes a different position on the matter. Facebook’s terms of service forbid making fake profiles to impersonate another person, or for that matter, creating a Facebook profile with a false name.

4. Registration and Account Security

Facebook users provide their real names and information, and we need your help to keep it that way. Here are some commitments you make to us relating to registering and maintaining the security of your account:

1. You will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission.

On Friday, Facebook sent a letter to the DEA, warning that these rules also apply to them, and deleted the Facebook profile made in Sandra Prince’s name. The entire letter can be found here, but some of the most relevant parts are reproduced below.

“We recently learned through media reports that the Drug Enforcement Administration created fake Facebook accounts and impersonated a Facebook user as part of its investigation of alleged criminal conduct unrelated to Facebook. Although we understand that the U.S. Department ofJustice is currently reviewing these enforcement practices, we write to express our deep concern about the conduct and ask that the DEA cease all activities on Facebook that involve the impersonation of others.”

The next several paragraphs recap the case, and affirm Facebook’s intent to protect users through these rules. The letter than makes clear what is wanted from the federal agency.

“Moreover, our terms and Community Standards which the DEA agent had to acknowledge and agree to when registering for a Facebook account expressly prohibit the creation and use of fake accounts:

  • Claiming to be another person, creating a false presence for an organization, or
    creating multiple accounts undermines community and violates Facebook’s terms
  • You will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission.
  • You will not post content or take any action on Facebook that infringes or violates
    someone else’s rights or otherwise violates the law.
  • You will not use Facebook to do anything unlawful, misleading, malicious, or

Facebook has long made clear that law enforcement authorities are subject to these policies. We regard the conduct to be a knowing and serious breach of Facebook?s terms and policies, and the account created by the agent in the Arquiett matter has been disabled.

Accordingly, Facebook asks that the DEA immediately confirm that it has ceased all activities on Facebook that involve the impersonation of others or that otherwise violate our terms and policies.”

Facebook is often accused of privacy breaches (particularly any time new privacy settings are rolled out), but in this case, they’ve made a clear move to protect users’ privacy.

[photo credit: opopododo]