The headless torso with the cheeky username that just tapped you on Grindr might not be the person you’re hoping them to be.
American law enforcement, including FBI and DHS, now create fake profiles on dating apps and social media to trick people into revealing their most intimate information.
Police in Florida created fake profiles on Grindr and Scruff to arrest 60 people allegedly linked to drug sales. Black activists who organized and attended protests in Minneapolis were victims of catfish cops; a 2022 report from the Minnesota Department of Human Rights showed that the Minneapolis Police Department utilized fake social media profiles to surveil Black leaders and organizations.
Police went so far as to send messages asserting they had met individuals at protests. These surveillance techniques are the modern incarnation of the FBI’s “Sex Deviate” program during the Lavender Scare era, only this time it’s not just the FBI you need to worry about.