DEA Facebook impersonator, Ferguson, and Ebola: ProPublica rounds up the best watchdog journalism.

#MuckReads: The Week in Watchdog Journalism, From ProPublica

#MuckReads: The Week in Watchdog Journalism, From ProPublica

Journalism in the public interest.
Oct. 10 2014 2:51 PM

The Story Behind That DEA Facebook Impersonator

And other great watchdog journalism from this week.

Mourners attend a candlelight vigil in memory of 18-year-old Vonderrit Myers Jr. on October 9, 2014 in St Louis, Missouri.
Mourners attend a candlelight vigil in memory of 18-year-old Vonderrit Myers Jr. on Oct. 9, 2014, in St. Louis.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Here are this week’s must-read stories from #MuckReads, ProPublica’s ongoing collection of the best watchdog journalism. Anyone can contribute by tweeting a link to a story and with the hashtag #MuckReads or by sending an email to MuckReads@ProPublica.org. Sign up here to get this digest delivered to your inbox weekly.

“I’m being taken away in handcuffs, and they don’t even know why.” Ferguson police have continued to use “arbitrary and inconsistently applied arrest policies” against protesters, despite state and federal intervention. In the two months since the police shooting of Michael Brown, hundreds of protesters have been arrested for minor offenses or unwritten rules—many without being told of the charges they face. — The Washington Post via @Bzdekv 

The DEA impersonated a woman on Facebook without her knowledge, and the Justice Department is OK with that. A federal agent created the fake profile, posting private photos seized from a suspect’s cellphone and posing as her to friends online. A U.S. attorney defended the agent’s actions as serving “a legitimate law enforcement purpose,” but one legal scholar said the incident “reeks of misrepresentation, fraud, and invasion of privacy.” Less than 24 hours after BuzzFeed’s story ran, the Justice Department said it was reviewing the matter. — BuzzFeed via @AzmatZahra

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Public records to go? That’ll be $132,348. That’s how much a court in Florida proposed charging the Center for Public Integrity for access to foreclosure-related documents. As the center reports, “charging high fees for access to public information can undermine public records laws and serve as a back-door way for government agencies to avoid releasing information they want kept private.” They’re still waiting on a waiver. — Center for Public Integrity via @alifitzg

California water officials urge conservation (except on their part). The Center for Investigative Reporting requested personal water bills for California officials who oversee water rates and policies, and found that nearly half consumed more water than a typical household. “Even as their agencies scolded ratepayers on conservation, 60 percent of these officials used more water in 2013 than they had in 2012,” CIR reports. — Center for Investigative Reporting via @katiasav

World health leaders underestimated Ebola crisis for months before declaring an emergency. “This is relatively small still,” a spokesman for the World Health Organization said in March, even as Guinea health officials warned of a “rapidly evolving outbreak.” It took five more months for the WHO to declare a global health crisis. This is what happened in the meantime. — The Washington Post via @dabeard

Inside Florida’s foreclosure rescue fraud. The Herald-Tribune combed through thousands of foreclosure records and court documents to uncover $550 million lost to foreclosure scammers in the last five years across the nation, including an estimated $32 million around Florida. But as foreclosure rescue scams have exploded, law enforcement efforts haven’t kept up. — via @JoshSalman

Amanda Zamora is senior engagement editor at ProPublica.