Facebook announced Tuesday that the Department of Homeland Security will be in violation of the company’s rules if it acts on a revised policy that allows agents to use fake profiles to monitor potential security threats. The announcement comes after an Associated Press report revealed that United States Citizenship and Immigration Services officers would once again be allowed to create fake social-media accounts to find information on people applying for citizenship. Homeland Security, which previously banned the practice, now says the faux accounts could help agents flag security threats when reviewing citizenship applications.
The reversal would allow officers to review publicly available social media, but would not allow them to “friend” or “follow” an individual, according to privacy assessment dated July 2019. Major social-media companies, including Facebook and Twitter, explicitly prohibit impersonation in their user agreements. Facebook said it would take action if it finds any government employees have violated that fundamental policy.