Feds using Facebook to catch drug offenders

October 21, 2014

summer johnsonFacebook is ordering the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to stop using fake profiles on its social media site to conduct investigations. [ABC News]

The DEA is currently facing a lawsuit from a New York woman who alleges the agency used her name and photos stored on her cell phone to create a Facebook persona. Sondra Arquiett, the plaintiff, is asking for $250,000 in damages.

DEA officials have confirmed that one of their agents created the fake Arquiett Facebook account. They said the profile was set up to interact with dangerous individuals under investigation.

Arquiett’s lawsuit prompted Facebook’s chief security officer, Joe Sullivan, to send a letter Friday to DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart. In the letter, Sullivan said that law enforcement agencies need to follow the same Facebook rules as civilian users, including the ban on lying about one’s identity.

As with the DEA, local law enforcement has faced allegations of creating fake online identities to catch criminals. One such account, a Facebook profile with the name “Summer Johnson,” pictured a woman biting her teeth into a large bag of marijuana.

The profile said that the woman attends Cuesta College, but administrators said no one by the name of Summer Johnson is currently enrolled.

After CalCoastNews published allegations about the Facebook page last month, the profile disappeared.

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