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Social Media and Online Impersonation in Louisiana

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Two developing stories in Louisiana about social media and online impersonation.  In the first story, a man hacked into his ex-girlfriend’s computer and deleted her class schedule and created a fake Match.com account for her.  He has been charged with computer tampering and online impersonation.  To read more about the incident go here.

The second story involves a clash between speech and online impersonation.  Patricia James is accused of creating a bogus Facebook identity under the name of “Kimmie Braud.”

The real Kim Braud, who works for Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez, filed a criminal complaint about the Facebook site created by James.  In October of 2012, James was charged with online impersonation.   James had previously worked for Martinez up until May 2012.

Last month the defense attorney for James, in a motion to dismiss, argued that the online impersonation statute is an unconstitutional prior restraint on free speech when applied to public figures because the law does not require proving actual malice.  The statute has only been in place since Aug 1, 2012.  In response to the defense, the prosecution asserted that the law here does not impede free speech.  Instead, it prevents people from impersonating others and damaging their name on social media.

The judge deferred ruling on the defendant’s motion to dismiss until November when the trial is scheduled to start. To read more about this incident go here.

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