Even if the innocent has nothing to hide, there’s no doubt that a new social media policy issued by the NY Police Department is raising concerns among the public.
Initially reported by NY Daily News, NYC Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has issued a memo that essentially allows officers to register fake accounts on social media sites, so long as they do so using a department-issued laptop and wireless card (which can’t be traced back to the department).
Monitoring social media has recently led to successful arrests, including the recent changes against some 49 gang members, who were caught bragging about murders on Facebook. Extreme cases aside, it’s uncomfortable to think that police officers could pose as teens, students or coworkers, friending or following unsuspecting citizens during investigations. Of course, users have to approve who they friend on Facebook and can adjust privacy settings as they wish, but Facebook’s open nature doesn’t exactly encourage complete privacy.
According to NY Daily News, associate legal director for the NY Civil Liberties Union, Christopher Dunn, believes that “police work on the Internet is ripe for abuse.” Given that this is new territory, it is likely that lines will be crossed as limitations are defined.
As for Facebook’s stance, a spokeswoman reportedly told NY Daily News that users are only allowed to register under real names, but can later identify themselves under “pseudonyms.” How that rule will be moderated is a different story, because it looks like this new policy is here to stay.