A Facebook page that purports to have been set up by Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher has attracted many “friends” from the media and political sphere, including me. But it’s fake.
The site has a picture of Sheriff Fletcher in uniform, and might easily pass as authentic when someone accepts a “friend” offer. But deeper into the page there now are these clues:
- Political Views: Supreme Overlord
- Religious Views: I am God
- Favorite quotation: “Let’s create a police state that the entire state of MN can enjoy! – Me”
- Interests: Banning Stuff, Anti-anarchism, Corruption, Wasting Money, Spy Cams, Police state
So I’ve “unfriended” the page.
Lots of others apparently were tricked, too. Some of those on the friend list this morning:
- AARP Minnesota
- Former Gov. Albert H. Quie
- Republican Lt. Gov. candidate Annette Meeks
- Former St. Paul City Council Member Bob Long
- Republican 1st District congressional candidate Chip Cravaack
- St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman
- U.S. Rep Collin Peterson
- Pioneer Press editorial writer James Ragsdale
- Star Tribune editorial writer Lori Sturdevant
- TPT reporter Mary Lahammer
- Former DFL gubernatorial candidate Matt Entenza
- Strib political reporter Rachel Stassen-Berger
- Strib Voter’s Guide guru Susan Seagren Hilliard
- Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Tom Horner
Reporters often check and join Facebook pages to keep up to date on candidates’ events and positions. And my memory is that, when first set up, the fake Fletcher page seemed more legitimate that it does now, but it has become much more stridently anti-Fletcher, which might explain how so many of us were lured in.
Former U.S. Norm Coleman had been a friend on the page, but “unfriended” it when alerted it was a phony.
Mayor Coleman’s office said it is standard policy to accept all Facebook friend requests because the mayoral staff views it as another way to more widely disseminate information about the city.
Some of the news people on the list didn’t want to be quoted but said they basically friend anyone who asks.
There is a legitimate “Sheriff Bob Fletcher” Facebook page, and he just called to say he’d “friended” me there — his 1,199th friend. He didn’t want to comment on the record about the fake page, but remembered that more than a year ago, I wrote a MinnPost story about another phony Facebook page — a fake Draft Bob Fletcher for governor page. (Maybe that should have made me skeptical of the current fake.)
Then I noted that because it was a “Draft Fletcher” page and didn’t purport to be the real Sheriff Bob Fletcher page, it might skirt the Facebook rules on impersonation. But the current page does purport to be real — with his photo —and may violate Facebook rules, as well as laws about impersonating an officer.
Fletcher said today that he’s had seven previous fake Facebook pages taken down but doesn’t plan to take action on this one at this time because there are only about 30 friends on it.