(Original story at the Seattle Pi here.)
Remember in elementary/primary school when you spread rumors about a much-hated classmate to embarrass him/her? That was a prank, perhaps worthy of detention, or expulsion from school at worst.
If you use the Facebook account of someone without his/her permission to post lewd messages to embarrass him/her – that is called hacking. Do not be fooled – it is a serious crime even though the medium is one that is friendly and one that you are familiar with.
Hacking is a criminal offense, meaning that the police can arrest you and charge you in court, and if found guilty, you may be jailed and a criminal record will exist in your file for the rest of your life, severely impairing your career opportunities forever.
Two Issaquah tweens charged with cyberstalking in Facebook incident
By Celeste Gracey, ISSAQUAH REPORTER
Published 10:01 p.m., Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Two Issaquah girls accused of hacking into a classmate’s Facebook page and posting lewd messages were charged Monday with cyberstalking and first-degree computer trespassing.
The investigation of the 11- and 12-year olds began after the alleged victim’s mother called Issaquah Police March 18 and took her story to broadcast media. The Reporter does not name juveniles charged with crimes.
Prosecutors allege the girls used the victim’s Facebook account to send out messages offering sex to boys at school and to post lewd “updates,” according to charging papers.
The suspects also allegedly posted offensive photos on her page, including one of the victim with horns graffitied on her head.
Once the victim’s mother discovered what had happened to her daughter’s Facebook page, she believed it was the suspects because they had reportedly bullied her daughter in the past.
The mother confronted the girls, who allegedly admitted to her accusations.
Police believe the girls got access to the Facebook account, after the login was saved to one of their computers.
The girls later gave written statements to police.
The case shows the dark side of social media sites, said Dan Satterberg, the King County prosecutor, in a press release. “Many kids think that on a social media site that their actions will be anonymous and that they are free to use it as weapon to bully, harass and intimidate another person.”
If convicted, both of the girls could face up to 30 days in juvenile detention.
The 11-year-old must first go through a capacity hearing, to see if she knew what she was doing was wrong. Washington state law presumes children ages 8 to 11 aren’t capable of committing crimes.
The 12-year is scheduled to be arraigned May 10 at Juvenile Court. The 11-year-old could also be in court that morning, depending on the results of her hearing May 3.