Facebook to Feds: Stop Impersonating Our Users

The social network accused the DEA of threatening “the integrity of our community” by pretending to be a New York woman on the site.

In this photo illustration the Social networking site Facebook is reflected in the eye of a man on March 25, 2009 in London, England. The British government has made proposals which would force Social networking websites such as Facebook to pass on details of users, friends and contacts to help fight terrorism.
National Journal
Oct. 17, 2014, 1:06 p.m.

Face­book on Fri­day scol­ded fed­er­al au­thor­it­ies for cre­at­ing a fake ac­count on the so­cial net­work to im­per­son­ate a New York wo­man for the pur­poses of a crim­in­al in­vest­ig­a­tion.

Face­book likened the Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s “harm­ful con­duct” to us­ing the site for do­mest­ic vi­ol­ence, and asked the agency to con­firm it was no longer en­gaged in the du­pli­cit­ous activ­ity.

“The DEA’s ac­tions threaten the in­teg­rity of our com­munity,” reads the let­ter, which was sent to agency Ad­min­is­trat­or Michele Leon­hart. “Us­ing Face­book to im­per­son­ate oth­ers ab­uses that trust and makes people feel less safe and se­cure when us­ing our ser­vices. In­deed, as we have ob­served at Face­book, such de­cept­ive ac­tions are of­ten used to fur­ther harm­ful con­duct, such as trolling, hate speech, scams and bul­ly­ing and even do­mest­ic vi­ol­ence.”

Face­book ac­cused DEA of know­ingly vi­ol­at­ing the com­pany’s terms of ser­vice, which in­clude the pro­hib­i­tion of im­per­son­at­ing an­oth­er per­son or us­ing the site to do any­thing that is “un­law­ful, mis­lead­ing, ma­li­cious or dis­crim­in­at­ory.”

Last year Son­dra Ar­quiett sued the gov­ern­ment for cre­at­ing a fake ac­count in her name in 2010. A DEA agent is ac­cused of pro­ceed­ing to post sug­gest­ive pho­tos of Ar­quiett that au­thor­it­ies had seized from her cell phone in or­der to lure sus­pec­ted crim­in­als in­to com­mu­nic­at­ing with the ac­count.

The Justice De­part­ment has ar­gued that the spe­cial agent, Timothy Sin­ni­gen, had the right to use seized pho­to­graphs to pose as Ar­quiett on­line.

Face­book noted that au­thor­it­ies do not dis­pute Ar­quiett’s charges, and said it was “deeply troubled by the DEA’s claims and leg­al po­s­i­tion.”

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