BANGOR, Maine — A local businessman is trying to find out who created a fake Facebook page using his name and then posted pornographic images and offensive comments on it, Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards said Wednesday.
“Someone has made a page using his name and put up pornographic photos,” the sergeant said, adding that “some obscene comments” also were posted on the page.
The 49-year-old victim contacted police about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday after attempting to contact Facebook about taking the page down and getting nowhere, Edwards said.
“He tried several times to contact them but not a lot has been done yet,” the sergeant said.
Facebook rules bar users from posting content that is “hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.” It also forbids users from bullying, intimidating or harassing other users.
Several people across the U.S. have been charged with felony offenses recently for creating fake Facebook pages.
Earlier this week in Houston, a 19-year-old man was charged with felony online impersonation after he created a degrading Facebook page featuring his ex-girlfriend that included her name, a topless photo of her and what officials described as a “lewd user name,” according to a story on UPI.com.
A New Jersey woman who created a disparaging Facebook page in the name of her ex-boyfriend — a Parsippany narcotics detective — was sentenced to one year of probation on Monday, according to the Star-Ledger newspaper. She was charged with identity theft and faced up to 18 months in prison.
The fake posts included, “I’m a sick piece of scum with a gun” and “I’m an undercover narcotics detective that gets high every day,” according to court documents, the Star-Ledger reported.
Other posts made by the ex-girlfriend said the drug cop hired prostitutes and had herpes, the Star-Ledger said.
Two girls in Florida — one 15 and one 16 — were charged with aggravated stalking of a minor in January after they created a fake Facebook account in the name of a fellow Estero High School girl that featured a nude photo of a girl with the victim’s face superimposed.
One of the girls charged with the cyberbullying admitted to police she created the fake account as a prank and said she and the victim were “friends at one time but they do not like each other now,” according to the police report cited on WPTV.com.
When police began their investigation, the victim’s fake Facebook account had 181 “friends.” The two teenage girls face five years in prison if convicted.
Cyberbullying is nothing new and is not only a Facebook issue. In 2006, the mother of a Missouri middle schooler created a fake MySpace page to cyberbully Megan Meier, a former friend of her daughter.
She created a fictitious 16-year-old boy who befriended and flirted with the young victim over a period of time, then sent her a message saying that the world would be a better place without her. Later that day, Meier committed suicide.
The woman was convicted of computer fraud, but a federal judge later overturned the ruling.
In the aftermath, Missouri and many other states enacted laws to prevent cyberbullying or added an online component to their stalking laws.
Maine’s cyberbullying law falls under stalking. A person is guilty of stalking if he “intentionally or knowingly engages in a course of conduct directed at or concerning a specific person that would cause a reasonable person … to suffer serious inconvenience or emotional distress,” Maine’s law states.
Threats include those done “by mechanical or electronic means,” the law says.
Lawmakers in Texas and California, where Facebook is headquartered, have taken additional steps to create online impersonation statutes that make it a felony to create a Web page, social media profile or other online account in someone else’s name that is intended to harm, defraud, threaten or intimidate.
If the person who created the fake Facebook page in the name of the Bangor businessman is caught, he or she could face criminal charges, Edwards said.
Detectives do not believe a jilted lover is to blame for the fictitious and defaming account, the sergeant said.
“There is no indication of that,” he said.
A call requesting information from Facebook about the number of fake accounts reported to the social media company was not immediately returned Wednesday. There are a reported 843 million active Facebook users in the world.