Slate reports that the Boston Police Department is clumsily using Google+ to infiltrate Allston’s vibrant underground indie scene, but the BPD will not confirm either way if it’s true.
Luke O’Neil reported that the alleged undercover officers were outed on a number of social media forums.
“They’re posing as music fans online to ferret out intel on where these DIY shows are going to take place,” he wrote. “While police departments have been using social media to investigate for years, its use in such seemingly trivial crimes would be rather chilling, if these efforts didn’t seem so laughably inept.”
And inept they are.
“Patty’s day is a mad house I am still pissing green beer. The cops do break balls something wicked here,” one private message went. “What’s the address for Saturday Night, love DIY concerts.”
It’s like @NotAPoliceman walked out of the Internet and gave BPD a free day-long tutorial.
Me, a cop? Ha! Some of my best friends are crime men, web hackers, drug fans, meat punks and burgles.— Not A Cop (@NotAPoliceman) October 31, 2012
I called up the BPD press relations to find out whether O’Neil’s story was legitimate: He did couch it by stating that it only really, really looked like the police were running the accounts, not that he had proof.
“Our chief here says we can’t confirm that information,” Officer Neva Coakley told me, adding that the police did not provide this information directly to Slate.
So given that I’d heard there was a continuing crackdown on indie shows, which are often hosted at private residences instead of permitted venues, I did what I always do in the face of government intransigence: Filed a public records request.
Theoretically, by law, the BPD will have to let us know in ten days about any secret Google+, Twitter, and Friendster accounts they have used in the past to ensnare indie music acts (currently used accounts would likely be exempt from disclosure).
Interestingly, if BPD is using fake Google+ profiles, it’s likely violating Google+’s Terms of Service and Real Names policy— and violating a terms of service is a federal felony according to some zealous prosecutors.