Philly D.A.: Update to “Facebook Case”
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s office issued a statement this morning indicating that some of the controversial postings on Freddie Henriquez’s Facebook page have been taken down. But this doesn’t mean that D.A. Seth Williams won his recently announced beef with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The D.A.’s office “believes someone other than Facebook removed the postings this afternoon after media outlets started reporting this story. There is no information to suggest that Facebook security took down the postings.”
Some background: In December, 20-year-old Freddie Henriquez of Kensington was charged with threatening a woman who was testifying against his friend in a weapons case. The woman was reportedly part of a conspiracy to straw-purchase guns for alleged drug dealers, but then flipped and agreed to testify against the dealers. Henriquez’s Facebook page reportedly featured messages that he wanted to “kill rats” along with a copy of the statement the woman had given police regarding the case.
Yesterday, the D.A. went public with his complaints about Facebook’s alleged violation of its own anti-bullying and harassment policy, claiming that Philadelphia officials had been asking the site to take down the threats since December. From Philly.com: “Williams said Assistant District Attorney Andrew B. Wellbrock made numerous requests to Facebook about the Henriquez Facebook page. Wellbrock received e-mails from Facebook’s Law Enforcement Response Team on Jan. 8 and Jan. 15 saying the images did not violate Facebook policy.
Philadelphia is struggling to crack down on witness intimidation both on and offine, making this episode seems like the D.A.’s office very public attempt to make it clear that they are trying — and could use some help.
Just last month, a Senate advisory panel recommended that the state of Pennsylvania give extra money to the Philadelphia D.A.’s office to pay for a specialized prosecutor’s unit dedicated to investigating witness intimidation.