27-year-old Anthony Novak of Parma, Ohio, was arrested last week for creating a fake Facebook page for the Parma Police Department.
Before the page was removed, it was reported that it featured posts indicating that it was illegal to help the homeless, that the city of Parma discouraged minorities from applying for work, and that a multiple-choice test was all it took to become a member of the police department.
Many viewed the page as satire, though evidently the police department being impersonated did not find it so funny; Novak, the alleged creator of the page, was arrested for a potential felony charge of “disrupting public services.” However, the arrest didn’t sit well with many online.
“Have you cops ever heard of a thing called satire? Or do you just not care?” one reply read on the Parma PD’s (actual) Facebook page. “You have arrested this man on false charges and should feel like authoritarian scum. You are censoring free speech.”
In addition, there were many features of the fake page that indicated it wasn’t real, including categorizing itself as a “Community” page and not a “Police station or government organization.” The fake page also had significantly fewer followers than the real one. To make matters even more interesting, more fake pages have popped up in the wake of the first one’s removal, raising the question: are the creators of those pages going to get arrested, too? It’s certainly a slippery slope, and it’s one the cops could regret going down in court.