Facebook Sues DEA Over Fake Profile Pages

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Facebook has tried, almost to a fault, to protect the identities of its users — as long as they’re real. See, for example, the site’s recent conflict that ended with the network allowing some users who dress as members of the opposite gender to use their stage names online.

The drama was based around fake profiles, which are highly frowned upon in Zuckerberg’s environment.

Recently, Facebook poked the Drug Enforcement Agency because it wants “assurances” that the feds are no longer using fake profile pages to conduct investigations.

Facebook’s chief security officer Joe Sullivan wrote in a letter to agency administrator Michele Leonhart calling the DEA’s actions are a “knowing and serious breach” of Facebook policies:

“Facebook is a community where people come to share and interact using their authentic identities. The DEA’s deceptive actions violate the terms and policies that govern the use of the Facebook service and undermine trust in the Facebook community ”

timothy sinnigenWhat brought this up? The actions of DEA agent Timothy Sinnigen.

In 2010, Sinnigen used images of a woman named Sondra Arquiett to create a fake account in her name without her knowledge. 

The pictures — including some of her in underwear and in intimate poses, as well as photos of her young son and niece — were taken off her cellphone when she was arrested on drug charges in 2010. For that, she is asking for $250,000 in damages. BuzzFeed broke the story earlier this month.

And this ruffled the feathers of Facebook C-suites. Again:

“Facebook has long made clear that law enforcement authorities are subject to these policies. We regard DEA’s conduct to be a knowing and serious breach of Facebook’s terms and policies.”

Think Arquiett and Facebook have a chance of putting the cuffs on the DEA? Ask the U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Brian Fallon:

“The department has launched a review into the incident at issue in this case. That review is ongoing, but to our knowledge, this is not a widespread practice among our federal law enforcement agencies.”

The earlier argument:

“[Sinnegan] implicitly consented by granting access to the information stored in her cellphone and by consenting to the use of that information to aid in … ongoing criminal investigations.”

In other words, dream on, sister. If you wanted privacy, you should have considered Snapchat or Whisper. Oh, wait…