From Facebook to jail—harmless prank or malicious identity theft?
Lovers’ quarrels have been playing out on Facebook for years. But one New Jersey woman has taken one online spat to a whole new level -- and may go to prison for it.
Dana Thornton faces up to 18 months in prison for allegedly creating a fake Facebook profile for her ex-boyfriend -- something prosecutors say breeches the state’s identity theft law.
Thornton set up the account using her ex-boyfriends birthday. She populated it with pictures of her ex Michael Lasalandra, who just happens to be a detective for the Parsippany, New Jersey police department.
Posing as Lasalandra, Thornton commented on other people’s profiles. According to the Daily Record of Parsippany, these comments were intended to “disparage his lifestyle choices and career.”
Thornton’s lawyers have filed a motion to dismiss, claiming that the state’s identity theft law doesn’t explicitly mention Facebook profiles. At worst, they say, Thornton violated Facebook’s terms of service (Facebook prohibits users from creating profiles under a false identity).
Not surprisingly, the state prosecutors say defense’s stance is pretty much bunk. Identify theft laws apply no matter online or off, they say.
If Lasalandra and the state win, Thornton will have a year-and-a-half to rue her decision to impersonate a police detective online.
And New Jersey residents will have learned an important lesson -- when you take your domestic disputes to Facebook, the law is still watching.