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Facebook Urges US Police to Stop Using Fake Accounts

When law enforcement has a written policy of engaging in fake/impersonator law enforcement accounts in violation of Facebook's policies, the social network should add a notification to the agency's page to inform users of the law enforcement policy

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This photograph taken on May 16, 2018, shows a figurine standing in front of the logo of social network Facebook on a cracked screen of a smartphone in Paris. VOA

Facebook should take new steps, including issuance of alerts to users, to address the proliferation of fake accounts operated by law enforcement agencies in the US, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a digital civil liberties not-for-profit organisation.

A report in the Guardian earlier revealed that the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) violated Facebook’s guidelines by creating fake profiles on its platform tied to the University of Farmington — a sham institution that left many students, most of them Indians, in detention.

Facebook’s policy prohibits all users, including government agencies, from making fake accounts. But despite this, law enforcement agencies created fake accounts to spy on users, EFF said.

Police departments in Ohio, New York, Georgia and Nebraska said they had policies allowing investigators to use aliases and undercover profiles on social media, the Guardian reported on Monday.

“Facebook’s practice of taking down these accounts when they learn about them from the press (or from EFF) is insufficient to deter what we believe is a much larger iceberg beneath the surface,” EFF’s Senior Investigative Researcher Dave Maass wrote in a blogpost.

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Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the Viva Tech start-up and technology summit in Paris, France, May 24, 2018. VOA

“We often only discover the existence of law enforcement fake profiles months, if not years, after an investigation has concluded,” Maass said.

In addition to suspending fake accounts, Facebook should publish data on the number of fake/impersonator law enforcement accounts identified, what agencies they belonged to, and what action was taken, EFF said.

According to EFF, when a fake/impersonator account is identified, Facebook should alert the users and groups that interacted with the account whether directly or indirectly.

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Facebook should further amend its “Amended Terms for Federal, State and Local Governments in the United States” to make it explicitly clear that, by agreeing to the terms, the agency was agreeing not to operate fake/impersonator profiles on the platform, Maass said.

When law enforcement has a written policy of engaging in fake/impersonator law enforcement accounts in violation of Facebook’s policies, the social network should add a notification to the agency’s page to inform users of the law enforcement policy, Maass said. (IANS)

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WhatsApp Rolls Out Feature To Share Stories On Facebook

Facebook-owned instant messaging app WhatsApp has begun rolling out a feature for Android users to let them share their status stories directly on Facebook Story

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Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to logos of social media apps Signal, Whatsapp and Telegram projected on a screen in this picture illustration. VOA

Facebook-owned instant messaging app WhatsApp has begun rolling out a feature for Android users to let them share their status stories directly on Facebook Story and other apps.

Just like Instagram, WhatsApp’s status Stories let users post images, text and videos on your profile that disappear after 24 hours.

WhatsApp hasn’t made an official announcement yet but several users reported this on Twitter.

“So WhatsApp has a new feature, you can share your story on WhatsApp to Facebook. For me, this is quite interesting, a centralized mode of communicating to various platforms,” posted one user.

“The New #WhatsApp update allows you to share your statuses on to your #FacebookStory as well,” wrote another.

To use this feature, tap on share button which will show you the apps you can share your WhatsApp status with.

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An iPhone displays the app for Facebook in New Orleans, Aug. 11, 2019. VOA

Tapping on “Share to Facebook Story” will let you share WhatsApp Status to Facebook Story.

Currently, there was no option to have WhatsApp status automatically shared to another service and the instant messaging app intends that the feature should be an active decision on the part of the user.

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The roll out appears to be part of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to create a unified app combining WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram to let over 2.6 billion users communicate with each other cross-apps by 2020.

The move could let the social networking giant tout higher user engagement to advertisers, thus, ramping up its advertising division at a time when growth has slowed down. (IANS)