Source: Sherman Publications

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Sheriff’s deputies investigate possible misuse of Facebook

by Susan Bromley

March 28, 2012

Brandon Twp.- Social media users beware.

In the digital age, Facebook, Twitter, and texting are all popular forms of communication. All have their perils, however, and can be misused, as a recent police report shows.

Oakland County Sheriff's Office deputies are investigating whether a crime occurred after a woman filed a complaint at the Brandon substation March 23 for harassment.

According to the report, the woman has been having ongoing issues with family members. She was told by a family member that a Facebook page had been created in a first name very similar to hers, with the last name exactly the same, and with general information that matched hers, such as same hometown, same high school and graduation date, etc. The page was created in January 2011 and was removed in October. She has been told it contained false statements meant to mock and villify her.

The complainant was told Facebook will not release any records or personal information about the page without a criminal basis for a search warrant.

Sgt. Pete Burkett said the matter will be investigated under a law regarding "unlawful posting."The law says that a person who posts negative content about another person on the internet which results in that person receiving one or more unwanted contacts can be prosecuted. Unlawful posting is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Another possible charge in this case could be using a computer to commit a crime.

Burkett urges citizens to exercise caution when posting information or photos to the internet or on their cell phones. Never post addresses or phone numbers, or when you are going on vacation or, for example, that you are concerned because your daughter is home alone.

"Anything you post can be accessed by anyone in the world with access to a computer," he said. "Think before you post photos and status updates. Use social media, but be very conscious of what you are posting, even if your security settings are at the highest level."