Fake News—And Fake Police Facebook Pages?

Photo: Screenshot of bogus “Moreno Valley Police” Facebook page

Fake Facebook pages for at least two law enforcement agencies appear to be set up over the weekend—with fake news reports of crimes that never actually occurred—but with a concerning number of growing followers and “likes.”

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in California warns there’s a fake “Moreno Valley Police Department” Facebook page was created over the weekend—with a fake news story about a triple homicide that never actually happened. The fake Facebook page includes the department’s badge, photos of personnel in uniform, and other elements that make it appear much like the actual Facebook page of the actual department.

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Sheriff’s Department spokesman Armando Munoz publicly urged Facebook users not to use, click or share any of the posts on the fake page, according to a Press Enterprise news report. And beyond misinformation, Munoz cited another concern: the links on the fake page may contain computer viruses.

Munoz also pointed out that the department’s official Facebook page has been operating for about 2 years (not 2 days).

Meanwhile, targeting a law enforcement agency on the opposite of the country, a fake Facebook page for the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department in Georgia was also recently set up—with similar fake news stories.

Both of the fake Facebook pages for these agencies contain a bogus news story from a website at “daily-reportts” under the “.info” top-level domain.

Both agencies are reportedly working with Facebook to remove the fake pages.

However, at the time this LawOfficer.com news report was originally published, both fake pages were still active—and the fake news stories were still being liked and shared on social media.

As police departments throughout the country, and the law enforcement profession as a whole struggles to hold and foster public trust, false information, fake news, and fake Facebook pages can undermine such efforts. And worse, lead to more serious complications and consequences.

Law enforcement agencies are urged to keep a watchful on their social media accounts and activity—and be wary of bogus imitations and fake accounts misrepresenting criminal activity that never actually occurred.

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