Police wrestle daily with misuse of Facebook
Finnish police are increasingly receiving complaints from people whose names have been used for the establishment of accounts and profiles on the Facebook social networking website.
The pictures and information of the person in question have often been taken from the person’s real account.
Hannu Kortelainen of the Helsinki Police Department says that complaints of misuse of the popular social networking site come every day. Usually they involve mischief.
In a typical case a profile is established in another person’s name. Embarrassing statements are then put on the profile in the other person’s name, and friend requests are made to people whom the person whose identity is being used would not ask.
Police have run up against another type of misuse of Facebook, mainly perpetrated by men who seek companionship.
“These men have taken a picture from the profile of someone who is more handsome than they are, and used it to get in touch with women. However, there are fewer of these”, Kortelainen says.
The police are limited in their ability to catch abusers of Facebook, even though some have been caught.
“We can approach the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to ask for help from California, where the community’s server is located, but that is just theoretical”, Kortelainen notes.
US legislation may not allow giving information about a user of the service if the suspected crime is no more serious than defamation.
Another problem is defining what crime might be involved. Simply using another person’s identity is not a crime, and making strange statements in someone else’s name does not necessarily meet the definitions of defamation.
Kortelainen says that the best way to protect one’s self from Facebook pranksters is to keep the security and privacy settings of one’s own Facebook account as tight as possible, and to think once or twice whom to accept as a friend.
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