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Moroccan jailed for Facebook profile

26 February, 2008
By Allison Orr

In what was apparently a joke, a Moroccan man has been jailed for setting up a Facebook account under the name of King Mohammed VI’s brother.  A court in Casablanca sentenced Fouad Mourtada, a computer engineer, to three years in prison and a fine for "the use of false information and usurping the identity of the prince", according to an article in The Australian.

The defence had argued that it was just a joke.  Many people use the names of famous people and politicians and there are many satirical and fake profiles and sites on Facebook.  (In one example recently, a Facebook profile was set up under the name of Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s son, Bilawal Bhutto Zadari.  This page appeared to be legitimate and actually fooled several news organisations.)

When asked why he had set up the profile, the defendant replied: "I admire him, I like him a lot and I have never caused him any wrong, it was just a joke. I am innocent."

Following the incident, some civil liberties groups questioned whether Facebook provided the Morrocan authorities with information to track down Mourtada, but a spokesperson for the company said they did not share any information with authorities, but did disable the profile several days after it was put up, as it broke Facebook's rules on impersonating others.

Update March 20 2008: According to an article in The Australian, Mourtada has been granted a royal pardon.

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