Kripos, Norway's National Criminal Investigation Service, is reportedly examining the legal aspects of how police accounts could be given access to areas of Facebook that are not open to the public. It would mean police gaining access to closed groups and interacting with members as they search for evidence of criminal activity, the Norwegian newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv reported.
“We have looked into the possibility of creating 'uniformed accounts'. But we have not decided whether it is something we should do,” communications officer Axel Wilhelm Due told Dagens Næringsliv, via the Local.
As The Telegraph reports, police in Norway and elsewhere have previously used fake Facebook profiles to investigate crimes including smuggling alcohol and tobacco.
Facebook has not given police profiles with enhanced access to private groups but they can apply for access to them in connection with criminal cases, Dagens Næringsliv reported.
Police superintendent Emil Jenssen of Kripos told Norwegian broadcaster NRK:
"We get lots of tips on areas where it is sold bootleg, drugs or other illegal things. Then we go inside these groups to preserve evidence for criminal cases.
"If there is a criminal case we can go to court and get an injunction and send it to Facebook. They send us so the information we need.
"We have the ability to do this in necessity as well if there is danger to life and health. When it goes very quickly, often under an hour. In other criminal cases it takes longer."
The company’s Norwegian press office told the paper that it didn’t want to comment on whether it would permit officially verified police accounts.
But such a decision would be a step forward for Facebook in terms of how it handles transparency surrounding intelligence or law enforcement agencies operating on the site. As the Snowden leaks revealed, Facebook and other tech giants like Google, Microsoft and Apple are already compelled to share our data with the National Security Agency, when it’s asked for.
If police officers are allowed to patrol content on the site, maybe Facebook could abandon some of its convoluted policies for policing what its users can and cannot see.
It also begs the question: Would this officially make “fake news” a crime?