Cops can use fake Facebook accounts to lure suspects, judge says

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — If you’re a criminal, be careful who you friend on Facebook.

A federal judge ruled last week that law enforcement can create fake social network profiles in order to search through a suspect’s account. Cops can lure suspects into “friending” them and then use the content of their Facebook, Instagram or other social media accounts against them in court.

United States District Judge William Martini denied a defendant’s motion to suppress evidence collected from his Instagram profile after he connected with an undercover account created by police officers.

The defendant Daniel Gatson argued that the police had no probable cause to search through his Instagram account. But Judge Martini argued that since Gatson accepted the request to become friends with the police officers, he enabled law enforcement to view photos and other information that he posted to his Instagram account.

As a result, the police did not need a search warrant. The sharing was consensual, the judge ruled.

Law enforcement has increasingly made use of the fake accounts tactic over the past year, angering social media companies, including Facebook and its Instagram subsidiary. Facebook has said it is “deeply troubled” that its customers consent to a legal search by friending fake accounts.

In October, Facebook sent a letter to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration demanding that agents stop impersonating users on the social network.

“The DEA’s deceptive actions… threaten the integrity of our community,” Facebook chief security officer Joe Sullivan wrote to DEA head Michele Leonhart. “Using Facebook to impersonate others abuses that trust and makes people feel less safe and secure when using our service.”

By David Goldman

1 Comment

  • Trent Parker

    Corrupt DEA and FBI employees have been poisoning their suspects dogs.

    Watch out for a corrupt DOJ employees…female, white, 5’6”, 45 yrs,blond, Swedish accent and male 5’8″, 45 yrs, Japanese long black hair with a Grey, female, Akita.
    Both where at the Petsmart in Milpitas around 3:00PM on the 24th.

    I saw the female slip the suspect’s dog something while the owner was not watching. The suspect’s dog had severe diarrhea shortly after. 
    The both need to be charged with Felony animal cruelty. The two described and other DEA agents are involved in slowly poisoning to death a suspect’s dog.

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