Google Plus Invite Results In Man's Arrest For Violating A Restraining Order

from the requesting-permission-to-post-on-your-behalf,-jailbird dept

To many people, Google's social media platform, Google+, remains a conundrum. Is it a Facebook competitor? Is it Google's efficient way of consolidating its power disparate services into a cohesive whole? Is it an ASCII penis generator?

One thing it might be is a brand new way to get in trouble. Matthew A. Sawtell sends in this story of one man whose dip into Google's social media pool resulted in his arrest.

Prosecutors say Thomas Gagnon violated a restraining order by sending his former girlfriend an invitation to join his Google Plus circle.

But Gagnon’s attorney says his client has no idea how the woman he once planned to marry — popping the question with a $4,000 ring earlier this month — got such an invitation, suggesting that it might have been sent by a robot.
Gagnon's attorney may not be far off. If Gagnon's estranged ex used other Google services like Gmail to communicate with Gagnon back in happier days, there's a good chance she was inserted into a list of potential Google+ "friends*" in order to easily insert them into Circles.

Then again, how Google generates its suggested contacts is considered a black art by much of the population, although the prevailing notion is that if Google owns it and you use it, you're on the list. The judge presiding over Gagnon's somewhat unexpected appearance in court had this bit of insight on the social media platform.
A Salem District Court judge yesterday admitted he wasn’t sure exactly how such invitations work on Google’s social media site…
That didn't stop him from setting Gagnon's bail at $500 and ordering him to stay away from his ex-girlfriend.

Gagnon's attorney continued to maintain that Google+ auto-violated the restraining order. The judge countered by expressing his doubt of Gagnon's ability to follow court orders, suggesting something went a bit off the rails during the original hearing.

Whether or not Google+ attempted to widen Gagnon's social circle by including a woman who had taken out a restraining order against him is still unclear. What's perfectly clear, however, is that the situation behind Gagnon's current legal problems escalated very quickly.

On Friday, Gagnon gave his momentary fiancée a $4,000 engagement ring. The next day (Saturday) she broke up with him. By Monday, she had taken out a restraining order. By Thursday, Gagnon was back facing the judge after his allegedly inadvertently "mailing out" a Google+ invitation to his ex. (This itself was the result of some speedy escalation. Gagnon's ex took a printout of the invitation to the police who had him in custody less than ninety minutes later.)

What could have provoked this expeditious onslaught of small, personal calamities? Details are sparse, but the article signs off with these lines.
It’s not clear from court papers whether the ring has been returned to Gagnon.

A status hearing in the case is set for Feb. 6.
If Gagnon wants to stay on the good side of the law, he should probably just unplug from the internet. Plenty of social media services mine contact lists and are more than happy to mass mail out invitations with a single click of the "accept" button.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    silverscarcat (profile), Jan 10th, 2014 @ 12:58pm

    Yet another reason...

    To avoid using crap like Facebook and G+ for the rest of my life.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    BentFranklin (profile), Jan 10th, 2014 @ 1:32pm

    I hear she's engaged to Sergey now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2014 @ 1:44pm

    Yet another reason...

    To avoid getting married

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Christopher Best (profile), Jan 10th, 2014 @ 1:46pm

    Re: Yet another reason...

    Exactly how many restraining orders do you have? ;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2014 @ 1:51pm

    I've long had a serious distrust of Google, Facebook, and Myspace to name a few. However unlike our troll, I rare say much about it. There is this thing that if you don't like them you don't have to use their services.

    Free with this group comes with a hidden price I'm not willing to pay. Maybe some others are finding the price a bit steep as well.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    blaktron (profile), Jan 10th, 2014 @ 1:55pm

    I always thought when someone has a restraining order against you, it details that you cannot be within X feet physically, or directly contact the person. You can, however, use a 3rd party to contact that person (such as a lawyer, accountant etc) otherwise a restraining order would be a license to steal from someone. It seems to me that Google is a 3rd party, and as long as the Circles invite were a standard form (ie, he did not customize the invitation) it should be open and shut.

     

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  7.  
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    mischab1, Jan 10th, 2014 @ 1:58pm

    Messed up

    Something is messed up. You don't get an invite asking if you want to be added to someone else's circle. They can add you if they want. You only get a choice on if you want to add them to one of your circles. Google does send you notices about what people in your contact list are doing on Google+ though.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Jan 10th, 2014 @ 2:00pm

    You don't need no stinkin' freedom of speech or press...a restraining order is more powerful than your trivial rights, boy! This is Amerikkka!

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2014 @ 2:01pm

    Re: Messed up

    ...or frame-up?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Glen, Jan 10th, 2014 @ 2:09pm

    Just maybe he had a circle called "Crazy psychopathic Bitches" and added her to it. She'd get an email but it doesn't oblige her to add him back.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Jan 10th, 2014 @ 2:10pm

    Re: Re: Yet another reason...

    ALL OF THEM!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2014 @ 2:11pm

    It happens

    I can personally confirm that Google has sent false notices to me and a friend that each other had added each other to circles.

    Neither I nor my friend added the other, yet we both received notice of having done so.

    Hardly surprising, really, given G+ has been one big failure after another. The judge's failure to recognize the possibility is not at all surprising either.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2014 @ 2:12pm

    Re: Messed up

    i have been sent invitations to connect with people from long ago...

    google has your phone # (and your distant friend)...

    and, google has your address book/contact list of many years. they might simply connect the dots and see who's missing from the circle.

     

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  14. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Jan 10th, 2014 @ 2:13pm

    And The Google spies on you all the while too!

    Google's tailoring to YOU can selectively substitute, omit, and lie. You can't trust anything on the net, neither what you see nor what you don't see!

    10:13:19[l-170-1]

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    New Mexico Mark, Jan 10th, 2014 @ 3:28pm

    My verdict? After about five seconds of "deliberation"?

    To her: Put your big girl panties on, pay the court costs and his legal costs for wasting everyone's time today, and don't accept the invitation whether deliberate or not.

    To him: Take a break from social media for a while. Maybe once this is all settled you can find another gold dig...er... marriage prospect to help relieve that uncomfortable bulge in your pants. (No, no, no, not THAT one! I mean your wallet!)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2014 @ 3:54pm

    "Whether or not Google+ attempted to widen Gagnon's social circle by including a woman who had taken out a restraining order against him is still unclear."

    It should therefore be clarified in a court of law, but like every other branch of the government, Google believes it is above the law, unwilling to clarify anything at all for any reason whatsoever.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2014 @ 4:07pm

    Re:

    "There is this thing that if you don't like them you don't have to use their services."

    Quite another matter when you are using someone else's service (original YouTube for example), which is then "purchased" by Google, who then, after completely obliterating it's usability, subsequently pulls the rug out from under one's feet (whilst sliding a new one beneath) in furtherance of deceiving both advertisers and investors saying: "Look at how many Google+ users we have!"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2014 @ 4:43pm

    "Gagnon's ex took a printout of the invitation to the police who had him in custody less than ninety minutes later."

    I wish they responded like that the last time I was assaulted.. It only took them 4 1/2 hours to show up at my house.

    I guess I should have said I was assaulted on the internet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2014 @ 4:52pm

    Wait you can get in trouble for a google+ invite. Its dumb that somehow he ended up inviting someone who has a restraining order against him but this is just silly.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    alan turing, Jan 10th, 2014 @ 7:44pm

    Re: Re: Messed up

    they ain't got my phone number

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2014 @ 9:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Yet another reason...

    Aham!

    ATTENTION VERY VERY IMPORTANT!:
    I'm going to pull his leg and mess with him, this is in no way or form a statement of fact, only a hillbilly joke.


    Did you get the one for the children too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Lurker Keith, Jan 10th, 2014 @ 10:07pm

    I hate those auto-invites

    I hate getting auto-invites for services I refuse to use that my friends join.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Tom The Toe, Jan 11th, 2014 @ 5:56am

    Let the Witch trials begin

    "A Salem District Court judge yesterday admitted he wasn’t sure exactly how such invitations work on Google’s social media site." The judge has now concluded since he can't put his finger on something he can't understand it must be witchcraft.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Steven Long, Jan 11th, 2014 @ 6:30am

    Response to: blaktron on Jan 10th, 2014 @ 1:55pm

    You're not really allowed to communicate with them through third parties. Can't initiate, can respond through third parties.

    And I don't get your license to steal comment at all

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2014 @ 6:55am

    This is a symptom of Google trying to move everything to google+ whether google users want to or not.

    Even though these are highly farfetched circumstances, it still illustrates that people being coerced or force to join against their will is a bad thing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2014 @ 6:58am

    Re:

    Also unplugging from the internet wouldn't have helped him, Google has been doing this with other services as well. Some people who 'liked' a youtube video I made in 2008 now have most of their personal information available to me because they were suckered into putting their real info on their google+ account. I imagine real scammers and phishers are having a field day right now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2014 @ 7:01am

    Re:

    This is different, it used to be that if you didn't like their service, then don't use it.

    Then suddenly, google started eating those services, and now it's trying to unify them. I didn't opt into Google+, I didn't opt into gmail, or google docs. But I certainly own an account with all those things now.

    Why? Because at one time, long ago, I made a youtube account. Now that information is available to google. Is that fair? Is that worth be forfeiting my rights because one giant entity ate another and now owns all of my stuff?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2014 @ 7:04am

    Re: Messed up

    You do depending on how much info they have on you. It's likely this man just gave Google a little too much info and Google went berserk with it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2014 @ 7:07am

    Re:

    That's a murky water, he never contacted her at all, a robot did it.

    I'm sure this will become apparent in the court hearing, or not, because it seems the judge wants to avoid all technology and keep his head stuck in the ground, Maybe him and the judge that was caught texting the prosecution can get together sometime.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2014 @ 2:09pm

    i'm i happy i dropped gmail a while back?

    uh . . . yes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2014 @ 2:11pm

    It may be mean, but the woman sounds like a fucking whackjob.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2014 @ 3:19pm

    Re: My verdict? After about five seconds of "deliberation"?

    "Put your big girl panties on"

    Who talks like this - seriously this is Fox News territory
    gmafb

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jan 12th, 2014 @ 4:46am

    Re:

    Given she broke up with him the day after he gave her a four-thousand dollar engagement ring, and then filed for a restraining order the day after that, 'whackjob' would probably not be the first word that would come to mind, though it would certainly be more generous than other words and descriptions I could think of.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2014 @ 10:21am

    What kind of an idiot buys a 4k engagement ring?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2014 @ 2:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Messed up

    )they ain't got my phone number

    Wanna bet. If you have a phone with a number and you gave gave your number to someone with an android phone they got it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2014 @ 10:05pm

    Re: Re:

    oh wait, according to TD Google is optional !!! are you now trying to tell me it is not!..

    Oh TD, we so much want to trust you, but trust is earned.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 6:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Messed up

    Don't forget about how they're insisting that everyone gives them their cell phone number now to initiate password resets.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 9:00am

    Re: Re:

    But I certainly own an account with all those things now


    Then delete all the data associated with that account and close it. You can do that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Sesquatch, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 7:52am

    no automatic invitations from Google+

    There are two different things, which are mixed up here.

    1. google never sends automatic invitations to put someone to your circles. It however proposes possible candidates to be included in your circles based on your emails (i think), or based on the number of common "friends", people who appear in both of your circles.
    This should not be considered an invitation from the other party (i.e. this case her ex), as it is not an invitation from the other person, rather an automatic suggestion for you to put someone in your circles (which can be anything, e.g. "most hated men on Earth").
    If this was the case, the lawsuit should be dropped, as the exgirlfriend only got an automatic suggestion from Google, based on common friends.

    2. The ex-boyfriend might have put the ex-girlfriend into one of his circles. The ex-girlfriend in this case got an automatic report on this fact. Google then suggest, that she can also put him in one of her circles. Again, this is something totally different from Facebook. Putting someone into my circles does not mean anything. It can mean that i can share information in the future with her more easily (if I want). It can also mean that i created a circle where i put the craziest persons I ever known.
    It does not imply however, that the other person needs to put me into her circles at all.
    So - unsimilar to Facebook, where invitations for "friendship" are sent, putting someone into your circle does not mean you want to become their friends.

    (of course if you put someone in your circle, by default you will receive updates on their PUBLIC activity, which is shared with the public)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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