A New York woman has won a $134,000 (£88,500) settlement after federal drug agents set up a fake Facebook page in her name as part of a sting.
The tactic raised questions of privacy, and led to a federal government review, according to court papers filed on Tuesday.
Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Timothy Sinnigen lifted photos and other information from Sondra Arquiett’s mobile phone, to put together a phoney account after she was arrested in 2010. The page used the pseudonym Sondra Prince rather than her real name.
Sinnigen hoped Arquiett’s friends would reveal incriminating information on drugs secrets via the profile.
For three months, the agent maintained the profile, accepted and sent several friend requests, and uploaded photos of Arquiett, her young son and niece.
Arquiett was later arrested, and pleaded guilty in 2011 to one count of conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute.
Facebook privacy settings you should know about
Facebook privacy settings you should know about
1/6 Change who sees your posts.
Anything you post on Facebook - from a status update to a photo - can be given its own privacy setting. 'Public' means that the information can be found via Google, or you can create custom groups of friends (http://ind.pn/1bVJJ2H) to share info with. Remember: whatever setting you last choose will become default until you change it again.
2/6 Check what your friends are sharing about you.
Sometimes it's not you, but your friends that give information away. Follow this link to see the information that your friends might be sharing with third party apps - http://ind.pn/1bVVar6. Click the 'edit' option to the right of 'Apps other use' and un-tick every category of info you don't want to share. There's also an option above labelled 'Apps you use' that lets you select which apps can use your Facebook data elsewhere on the web. Don't trust them? Click the little cross on the right.
3/6 Hide old posts.
If you're keen to make your Facebook past more private, limiting who can see your old posts should be your first step. Follow this link - http://ind.pn/1bVK7hv - and click 'Limit The Audience for Old Posts on Your Timeline'. You can make all of these old photos and stats updates vieweable to the public, friends only, or just yourself. From this page you can also change who can send you messages and friend requests.
4/6 Create friend lists.
Since September 2011 Facebook has let you create different 'lists' of friends in order to let you separate what your close buddies and your work colleagues see. Facebook can give you a head start by suggesting lists based on who you went to school with and where people live - and you can even choose to browse a News Feed populated only by a certain list. Follow the link below for a full guide: http://ind.pn/1bVPu0d
5/6 Limit adverts.
Pages you like will sometimes be used by Facebook to endorse a product to your friends. If you don't wnat these to show up head to this page - http://ind.pn/1j6Mc2b - select "Pair my social actions with adverts for no one" and click Save Changes.
6/6 Check your profile.
If you're still worried about which of your photos or posts are visible to people you can check what the public (or any specific individual) sees when they click on your profile. View your profile by clicking on your namem then click the cog in the bottom right hand corner of your cover photo, then select 'View as...'
She was sentenced in 2012 year to time served and given a period of home confinement.
In 2013, Arquiett sued the federal government and said she suffered fear and emotional distress and was put in danger, because the fake page created the impression that she was cooperating the investigation.
The Justice Department initially defended the sting and did not admit wrongdoing as part of the settlement with Arquiett, but later announced a review in October into whether the tactic went too far, MailOnline reported.
In a letter to DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart, Facebook said the agency had committed “a knowing and serious breach of Facebook's terms and policies” by lying about a user's identity, NBC reported.
“This settlement demonstrates that the government is mindful of its obligation to ensure the rights of third parties are not infringed upon in the course of its efforts to bring those who commit federal crimes to justice,” Richard Hartunian, the US attorney for the Northern District of New York, said in a statement.
While the settlement does not prohibit the DEA from using similar tactics again in the future, a Justice Department spokeswoman said in a statement that department leadership had met with law enforcement agencies to “make clear the necessity of protecting the privacy and safety of third parties in every aspect of our criminal investigations.”Reuse content