Facebook fibbers making Helsinki police blue

Police in Finland’s capital have issued advice about ‘Facebook crime’, as complaints about online pranksters are keeping cops busy. Hannu Kortelainen, of the Helsinki police, has revealed that gripes about the popular social networking site come flooding into the station on a daily basis.

The most popular complaint is that users’ pictures and profile information are being ripped off in order to set up bogus accounts. Once a new online persona has been created, the mischievous meddlers post embarrassing statements that appear to be from the unwitting real-life user.

Another reported misdemeanour is apparently being perpetuated by lonely men with low self-esteem. “These men have taken a picture from the profile of someone who is more handsome than they are, and used it to get in touch with women. However, there are fewer of these,” said Kortelainen in a report by Helsingin Sanomat.

Kortelainen claims that although a few Facebook fibbers have been caught, the police are limited in their ability to pick up the pranksters. “We can approach the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to ask for help from California, where the community’s server is located, but that is just theoretical,” said Kortelainen.

Under US legislation, information about internet service users is not automatically available unless the crime they are suspected of amounts to more than defamation. Whether posting embarrassing statements in someone else’s name amounts to a crime at all seems to be a legal grey area.

Kortelainen has advised the nation’s Facebook users to keep their security settings as tight as possible and to think twice about who they add as a friend.