Student arrested after police Facebook him

16 University officers' profiles found on popular network site

By Kiyoshi Martinez

Posted: 8/1/06 Section: News
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Students often put up incriminating or potentially embarrassing information about themselves on their Facebook profiles without realizing that anybody could access them.
Media Credit: Beck Diefenbach
Students often put up incriminating or potentially embarrassing information about themselves on their Facebook profiles without realizing that anybody could access them.

When Adam Gartner created his Facebook account, he expected to use it to meet more people and show off to those who looked at his profile. What he did not expect was for his own profile to be used against him as evidence by a University police officer.

"I didn't even know that he could use that," Gartner, a 22-year-old junior in ACES, said.

Not knowing that University police could access his Facebook profile resulted in Gartner being given a citation for obstructing justice.

The popular social networking Web site that is available to anyone with an ".edu" e-mail address is not a secret on university campuses known only to students. Increasingly, employers, school administrators and now law enforcement have been using the semi-restricted network that features more than 7.5 million registered users. Requests for comment from Facebook were not returned as of press time.

While University Interim Chief of Police Kris Fitzpatrick did not give an exact number of police officers who have accounts on Facebook or could say how often it is used by the department, The Daily Illini was able to identify 16 police officers with accounts on Facebook by searching for department member's e-mail addresses. None of the profiles state the owner is a police officer at the University, although some state they are "UIllinois Staff."

Fitzpatrick said Facebook was used in the case involving Gartner and his friend Marc Chiles and that the information on Facebook was public. Additionally, on July 21, a crime report listed on the University Division of Public Safety Web site also mentioned the use of Facebook in the investigation.

"Our officers use a variety of means to verify or follow-up individuals' stories," Fitzpatrick said. "(Facebook) is not the only avenue or source of information that we use."

When asked if she had a Facebook account, Fitzpatrick said, "I don't have an account."

However, on Thursday, The Daily Illini identified a Facebook account registered under Fitzpatrick's "kfitzpat@uiuc.edu" e-mail address with the name "Kris FItz" (sic) and as "UIllinois Staff." At of the time of the interview on Monday afternoon, however, the account could not be found under the same e-mail address.
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