There is no question that our society, as it becomes more global, will find new ways of staying in touch with the people we love. Social networking websites like Facebook have made this quite easy, allowing us to not only stay in touch but find people we’d like to talk to as well.
Unfortunately, law enforcement agencies are also using these sites but not in the way you might expect. In the last few decades, you’ve probably read a story or two on the Internet about an arrest that was made because of something that was posted on Facebook. In fact, in a growing number of states, including here in Florida, Facebook surfing for suspected criminals is growing in popularity. But as it grows in popularity, so too does the risk of violating someone’s rights as well.
Take for example the case of a New York woman who is currently suing the Drug Enforcement Administration after it posted a fake Facebook account under her name, using pictures and information from her cellphone. Her case is grabbing national attention because it raises questions about a person’s rights and what they could be giving up if they do not fully understand what police are asking of them.
According to reports, the woman was arrested in 2010 on drug possession charges to which she later pleaded guilty to in 2012. According to the DEA, the woman gave the agency consent to access information on her cellphone, which was then used to create the fake Facebook account.
According to the woman’s lawsuit though, she may not have fully understood what she was agreeing to at the time and is claiming now that she has suffered “fear and great emotional distress” because of DEA’s actions. Now it will be up to the courts to determine whether the DEA’s actions in fact violated the woman’s civil rights and if compensation should be awarded to her as restitution.
Sources: NBC News, “DEA Agent Sued Over Fake Facebook Page in Drug Case,” The Associated Press with Hasani Gittens, Oct. 7, 2014
Digital Trends, “In the online hunt for criminals, social media is the ultimate snitch,” Kate Knibbs, July 13, 2013