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Man Faces Charges After Social Incidents

A Jamestown man faces charges after allegedly creating fake social media accounts to harass or annoy people.

Tyler J. Goodwill, 18, of Jamestown was allegedly creating social media accounts and assuming people’s identities. He was charged with second-degree aggravated harassment and criminal impersonation on Tuesday after an arrest warrant was issued.

Goodwill was taken to the Chautauqua County Jail and will be in court later.

Goodwill was also charged in August with aggravated harassment after Ellicott police investigated a complaint that occurred on two occasions in Ellicott in which Goodwill allegedly communicated with another person, causing the person to reasonably fear harm to their safety.

FAKE SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS

Most of the debate over fake social media pages centers on election malfeasance, such as the charges announced in November against Richard Luthmann, a lawyer who allegedly set up Facebook pages impersonating former Republican state Assembly candidate Janine Materna and Councilwoman Debi Rose, according to the Staten Island Advance. Luthmann also reportedly set up a fake Facebook page impersonating the Staten Island Democratic Party chairman. He was indicted on 17-counts that include falsifying business records and identity theft as well as charges of criminal impersonation, election law violations, stalking and falsely reporting an incident to the NYPD.

And, on Tuesday, NBC News reported Jacob Wohl, a conservative activist who previously attempted to smear special counsel Robert Mueller with false sexual assault allegations before the 2018 midterm elections had been banned from Twitter for operating a ring of fake accounts.

Wohl’s “account was suspended for multiple violations of the Twitter rules, specifically creating and operating fake accounts,” Twitter told NBC News in a statement.

Wohl had also previously been profiled in USA Today, a story in which Wohl said he planned to create fake Twitter and Facebook profiles to “steer the left-wing votes in the primaries to what we feel are weaker candidates compared with Trump.”

A recent CNN report also found researchers were able to use fake Facebook and Instagram accounts to identify people taking part in military exercises, pinpoint exact locations of several battalions, gain knowledge of troop movements to and from exercises and discover dates of active phases of the exercise. Durin the experiment, it was found Twitter gave little useful information while Facebook provided significant pushback, suspending several of the fake accounts and pages.

POLICE USE OF FAKE SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS DOESN’T VIOLATE CONSTITUTION

While social media companies have user guidelines against fake accounts, courts have ruled evidence collected from fake social media accounts is admissable in court and does not violate the Fourth Amendment protection of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable search and seizure.

In 2014, a U.S. District Court in New Jersey ruled that evidence posted to a man’s Instagram account and seen by police using a fake, undercover Instagram account posing with items he had stolen was admissable in court.

“As part of their investigation into (the man) and other co-conspirators, law enforcement officers used an undercover account to become Instagram ‘friends’ with (the man),” Judge William J. Martini wrote in his December 2014 decision. “(The man) accepted the request to become friends. As a result, law enforcement officers were able to view the photos and other information (the man) posted to his Instagram account. No search warrant is required for the consensual sharing of this type of information.”

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