Phila. D.A. asks Facebook's Zuckerberg to intervene and take down page

Freddie Henriquez (left), 20, and David Ruiz, 21, in a photo from Facebook.
Freddie Henriquez (left), 20, and David Ruiz, 21, in a photo from Facebook.
Posted: February 06, 2013

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams is known as an avid user of Facebook.

But he has some complaints, and on Monday he took one gripe right to the top: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Williams called on Zuckerberg to be a "good corporate citizen" by ordering Facebook to remove the page of a Philadelphia man Williams alleges used it to solicit the killing of a witness in a case involving illegal firearm purchases.

So far, Facebook - if not Zuckerberg personally - has said no, because Freddie Henriquez's page urging people to "kill rats" does not violate any of Facebook's terms of use.

"I asked to be district attorney. . . . Victims didn't ask to have their car stolen, didn't ask to be raped or shot," Williams told reporters.

Williams said he had sent a letter to Zuckerberg asking him to order Henriquez's page removed and his Facebook account deactivated.

In an e-mail, Facebook did not directly address Williams' remarks.

"Facebook works with law enforcement to the extent required by law and where appropriate to ensure the safety of Facebook users," the statement reads. "We work very hard to be a good partner to law enforcement, and any assertion to the contrary is false."

Williams said Assistant District Attorney Andrew Wellbrock made numerous requests to Facebook about the Henriquez page. Wellbrock got e-mails from Facebook's Law Enforcement Response Team on Jan. 8 and 15 saying the images did not violate Facebook policy.

But Williams said Henriquez's Facebook page violated two items on the site's "Statement of Rights and Responsibilities" - one that warns users not to "bully, intimidate, or harass any user," and another against "anything unlawful, misleading, or discriminatory."

Henriquez, 20, was arrested Dec. 17 and charged with witness retaliation, witness intimidation, and terroristic threats and was ordered to stand trial. On Friday, he was freed after posting 10 percent of his $250,000 bail.

Late Monday, several objectionable Henriquez pages were removed, though by whom is unclear. Williams' said he did not believe Facebook removed them and added that Henriquez might have done so after his release.

Wellbrock said a Holmesburg gun seller contacted authorities early last year to report what he considered suspicious gun purchases by a young woman.

In February 2012, Wellbrock said, the woman was arrested and charged with making straw purchases - buying guns for convicted felons.

The woman, whom Williams declined to name, made a statement to police and agreed to testify against her drug-dealer customers.

Williams said a relative of the woman allegedly gave a copy of her statement to Henriquez. On Nov. 9, Henriquez allegedly posted all eight pages and labeled her a "rat."

Elsewhere on the page, Williams continued, Henriquez said, "kill rats."

Williams said the man who allegedly gave Henriquez the statement, David Ruiz, 21, was arrested Jan. 11 on gun charges. He is in custody on $150,000 bail pending a Feb. 26 preliminary hearing in Municipal Court.

Witness and victim intimidation has been a pervasive problem for prosecutors. Williams said 2,041 people have been arrested for threatening witnesses since 2010.

Williams himself has been the target of Facebook threats. Last September, Joshua Scott Albert, 26, an unemployed restaurant-worker-turned-blogger, was charged with calling for the murder of Williams and the head of the Philadelphia lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Albert insisted his Facebook posts were "satire," but he was ordered tried for solicitation of murder. He remains in custody in lieu of $300,000 bail.


Contact Joseph A. Slobodzian at 215-854-2985, jslobodzian@phillynews.com, or @joeslobo on Twitter.

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