FBI Provides Chicago Police with Fake Online Identities for "Social Media Exploitation" Team
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of The Intercept
Posted: May 31st, 2022
The Social Media Exploitation, or SOMEX, team ... had been set up to help the FBI find informants and intelligence using information gleaned from social sites. The Intercept and Chicago-based transparency groups obtained more than 800 pages of emails and other documents about the team through public records requests. These show that the team’s officers were given broad leeway to investigate people across platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, using fake social media accounts furnished by the FBI, in violation of some platforms’ policies. The week that followed George Floyd’s murder by a white police officer was an intense moment in Chicago’s — and U.S. — history. Thousands of people took to the city’s streets to peacefully demonstrate against police violence. Despite ample warning, the Office of Inspector General report found, Chicago’s police were unprepared. When they did react, their response was chaotic and excessively violent, with officers variously hiding their badge numbers, turning off their body cameras, blasting people with pepper spray at close range ... and telling an arrestee that they would be raped in jail. The SOMEX team’s reaction was also troubling. The team’s mission was to provide both the FBI and the CPD with useful intelligence. What the SOMEX officers did instead: flag potential damage of police cars, investigate the social media connections of people who had made threats online, and cull videos for the department’s YouTube channel.
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