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November 18, 2013   Columns Articles | Inside UGA | Police investigate ID thefts related to Facebook posts

Police investigate ID thefts related to Facebook posts

Aaron Hale

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By Aaron Hale | November 18, 2013
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UGA police are conducting identity theft investigations related to hateful speech posted on the social networking sites of several UGA student, staff and faculty groups.

"Two Facebook accounts and a Twitter account of unknown individuals were set up and used to post derogatory information on other sites that are part of the university community," said UGA Police Chief Jimmy Williamson.

The posts, which have been deleted, have been vigorously denounced by UGA administration.

"It has become apparent through recent outrageous online postings that those responsible, as-yet unknown, are intent on spreading their message of hate," said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. "When any member of our community is attacked in such a hateful way, we all are affected. We all share their hurt; we come together in their support. I join with other members of the university community in condemning these actions, which do not reflect the culture of unity and inclusion which we support on our campus."

While the comments themselves may be protected by freedom of speech, the criminal investigations deal with the theft of identities in creating the social media accounts.

According to UGA police, there are two victims whose names were used in the recently created fraudulent accounts. One victim is a student; the other has no affiliation with UGA. Those accounts were then used to post bigoted comments on university community social media pages.

"These investigations are a priority of the police department," said Williamson, who has two investigators currently assigned full time to the incidents.

In addition, UGA police are working with representatives from Facebook and Twitter. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation also is trying to identify the individuals behind the posts.

"While we hope and expect that anyone responsible will be identified and held accountable for their actions, we should not allow them to achieve the goal that seems their intent: to divide our community and divert our attention from the pursuit of an open, unified campus," Morehead said. "Let us work together to keep that from happening."

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