Police: Social media has fueled misinformation

9:32 PM, Dec 16, 2012   |    comments
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On Sunday, Connecticut State Police warned of misinformation about the case on social media, including impersonations of the shooter and news outlets.

Lt. Paul Vance with the Connecticut State Police talked about the issues they're facing at length during a media briefing.

"It is important to know that we've discussed with federal authorities that these issues are crimes and they will be investigated state wide and federally and prosecution will take place when people perpetrating this misinformation are identified," he said.

9NEWS legal expert Scott Robinson offered more insight on what constitutes criminal action.

He points out that giving inaccurate information to the media is not a crime, but assuming someone else's identity is, if prosecutors can prove that it was done with certain intentions.

That seems to be the point Vance stressed when he talked about people starting websites and accounts where they pose as the shooter.

"Criminal impersonation is certainly a crime, but it requires intent either to gain a benefit for yourself or to avoid something like going to jail. Simply claiming you are someone you are not is not a crime. The federal wire fraud statue also requires intent. So setting up a website is not in and of itself a crime unless you have the forbidden intent the intent to defraud someone else," Robinson said.

There is a fine line between freedom of speech and information becoming a criminal act.

Authorities say that the information they will release will be during press conferences.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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