N.J. Facebook ID Theft Case Could Impact Other States

By David Cohen Comment

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, especially when the woman allegedly decides to create a fake Facebook profile to slander her ex-boyfriend.

Dana Thornton, 41, of Bellville, N.J., was indicted on one count of fourth-degree identity theft in Morris County last year, the Daily Record reported, with a possible punishment of up to 18 months in jail.

Thornton was accused of establishing a fake Facebook page for Parsippany Det. Michael Lasalandra after their relationship ended, the Daily Record reported, including his name, date of birth, photographs, and comments, all creating a derogatory image of his career and his lifestyle choices.

Defense lawyer Richard M. Roberts filed a motion to dismiss the indictment, claiming that New Jersey’s statute on identity theft or impersonation does not contain any references to Facebook, other social networks, or electronic devices

The Daily Record quoted Roberts saying:

Most important, in New Jersey, no courts have ever ruled that creating a profile of anyone online, without the individual’s consent, constitutes false impersonation. Under the New Jersey statute, there is no plain wording, commentary, memorandum, or any evidence of legislative intent to show that impersonating someone online or by electronic means is a crime.

When the court reconvenes under Superior Court Judge David Ironson in Morristown November 2, the prosecution will argue that the current law, as written, applies to Facebook, the Daily Record reported, with the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office saying in its filing, “Certainly, it would damage his good name, standing, or reputation if false comments and assertions[were spread about Lasalandra].”

Her action also violates Facebook’s own rules, which prohibit opening an account on someone else’s behalf.

It will be interesting to see how this case ends up being resolved, as a ruling in favor of Thornton could impact states where Facebook in particular or social networks in general are not specifically mentioned in laws covering identity theft.

Readers: How do you think the case against Dana Thornton will turn out?