Fake Facebook pages bring jail threat to ex-girl friend
A woman faces up to 18 months in jail in New Jersey because of fake pages she created on Facebook in the name of a boyfriend said to have jilted her -- a drugs squad detective.
According to the prosecution, the woman, Dana Thornton, filled “his” fake Facebook page with statements such as “I’m a sick piece of scum with a gun,” and “I’m an undercover narcotics detective that gets high every day.”
Peril of fake Facebook pages
The fake Facebook page in the name of detective Michael Lasalandra also had him admitting he hired prostitutes and had herpes, according to the prosecution. The offending pages have been removed from Facebook.
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The reason that this is a criminal case, with prison possible - rather than a civil case - is that Thornton is charged with “identity theft” .
Her lawyer asked the judge to dismiss the case, saying the New Jersey law on identity theft does not at present cover “electronic communications," although an amendment is in the works.
Superior Court Judge David Ironson dismissed the objection. He said the current law was broad enough to cover fake Facebook posts.
Art Neill, executive director of the New Media Rights organisation in San Diego, is worried about the case.
He told blogger Robert McGarvey, “There are other cases, such as making a page to criticise or parody a public figure or politician, where courts should be very hesitant to find any liability and ensure the freedom of speech given to us by the First Amendment.”
If New Jersey prosecutors win against Thornton, online posts under false names may bring legal action involving jail time. “You will be held accountable for what you post,” a lawyer told McGarvey. “That is what New Jersey is saying in this case.”