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Facebook friend arrested for sex crime

Facebook users might enjoy the social media site’s social aspect. Search capabilities on the site can make it easy to find old college friends, connect with others based on geographic region, and discover favorite books, music or other recommendations.

It’s also very easy to add friends to one’s Facebook account -- often in mass number. In real life, such individuals might only qualify as acquaintances, rather than friends. This phenomenon of adding online friends -- who aren’t really friends -- might explain why a Florida parent was recently surprised to discover that one of her so-called Facebook friends was arrested for a sex crime. The specific charge was for online solicitation of a minor.

The woman had joined a group page on Facebook. In so doing, she provided all the group members access to her personal Facebook page. Eventually, she realized that her photos of her 12-year-old daughter were not as private as she believed, and were viewable by members of Facebook groups to which she belonged. Accordingly, she changed her privacy settings.

This lack of online privacy isn’t limited to Facebook users, however. A sex crimes attorney might caution individuals to fully learn the identity of anyone with whom they are virtually chatting. Undercover officers participating in sting operations might pose as other individuals in an online chat room.

Although the defense of entrapment may also apply to online conversations, it may be unavailable if an accused’s actions progressed from chatting into setting up a meeting. An experienced attorney who is up-to-date on the growing body of law on the entrapment defense might be a good resource for anyone charged with an Internet sex crime.

Source: floridatoday.com, “Web security doesn't stop with children,” Aug. 26, 2013

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