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The NYPD Has Social Media Rules Too!

Note to New York City criminals: The next obviously fake “individual” who wants to friend you on Facebook may well be a cop in disguise!

Every agency has an official social media rules document, right? Well, these “how not to be a jackass online” guides aren’t limited to PR organizations: New York’s finest now have one too.

Last year we got news that Ray Kelly’s boys in blue had created a social media unit to scan the various networks for signs of criminals dumb enough to brag about their crimes online. Now the NYPD has, for the first time, laid out a set of rules for officers to follow when using social media as an investigative tool. Let’s get to the juiciest bits:

  • Officers can create as many fake Facebook/Twitter profiles as they deem necessary—as long as they register them with the department. This goes directly against the company’s terms of service, so we’d love to get Zuckerberg’s thoughts on the issue.
  • Officers engaging in this sort of activity will use untraceable department-issued laptops that cannot be tied back to the NYPD. We’re OK with this—we just hope they’re not HP laptops, because we wouldn’t wish those on anyone.

We never really took the concept of professional trolling seriously, but then we read this sentence: “Trolling the Internet can give police a tipoff to an imminent threat or give cops a leg up if they are conducting undercover work that requires deception, such as posing online as a teen to nab a rapist.”

Of course, the party poopers in the New York Civil Liberties Union had to weigh in and point out that allowing cops to do things that other people can’t may well lead to abuse. Soooo predictable.

We’re all for giving the police the tools they need to track down criminals, but, given the fact that 17 cops were punished last month for operating an anti-West Indian Day Parade Facebook page determined to be just a little bit racist, we hope this new rulebook inspires them to be a little more careful on social media in the future.

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