At first glance, creating a fake Facebook profile for your ex-boyfriend seems like a fun way to exact revenge. But Dana Thornton would probably warn that doing so may be illegal.
Thornton was charged last year under New Jersey's identity theft law for impersonating her ex on Facebook. And on Wednesday, a state judge ruled that the prosecution can move forward.
That's right--creating and using a fake Facebook profile is akin to identity theft.
New Jersey law makes it illegal to impersonate another "for the purpose of obtaining a benefit for himself or another or to injure or defraud another."
Dana Thornton allegedly created the fake Facebook profile and posted personal information and photos of her ex. She then used the page to post comments while pretending to be him. Some comments stated that he has herpes and is "high all the time," according to the Associated Press.
Thornton's attorney tried to argue that words alone do not fit the "injure" requirement of the statute. He further argued that the law doesn't mention electronic communications, and therefore does not cover fake Facebook profiles.
But the judge pointed out that the law doesn't exclude these activities either. Moreover, Thornton's ex-boyfriend is a narcotics officer. Assertions of criminal activity can ruin his career.
If you think Dana Thornton presents a unique situation, think again. A number of identity theft laws cover electronic communications, including those in New York and California. In fact, California's law was applied to a fake Facebook profile earlier this year.
- Nasty fake Facebook pages not OK -- that's ID theft, judge says (Los Angeles Times)
- Cyber Bullying (FindLaw)
- WA Girl, 12, Sentenced for Facebook Cyberstalking (FindLaw Blotter)