Fake Cop Instagram Account Gets an OK From Judge

By Darren Orf on at

n October this year, a case came under legal scrutiny when a US Drugs Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent created a fake Facebook account using the identity of real-life person Sondra Prince, even pinching photos of her and her young son and niece to create the digital forgery.

Facebook denounced the action as a serious breach of its terms and policies. But Instagram, it seems, is a different matter.

In a New Jersey case involving Daniel Gatson, an accused burglar who had allegedly stolen near three million dollars' worth jewellery, Judge William Martini dismissed Gatson's claims that police officers created a fake Instagram account, in order to access photos that Gatson (stupidly) posted on his feed.

The Facebook and Instagram cases are similar, both involving law enforcement using social media to dupe their suspects, with the big difference being how you actually sign up for the two services.

Facebook has a staunch stance on not allowing fake profile names, and has even got them into some trouble, but Instagram is a different beast. At no point does it require you to provide your real identity or even use your real name.

Martini's decision isn't irrefutable regarding how law enforcement can use social media during investigations, but it does provide a precedent regarding how the police can use your disparate accounts against you. Our advice? Don't do illegal shit, and especially don't post it on Instagram (duh). Bieberluvr578 may not be who you think. [Ars Technica via Engadget]