Ever heard the term “Fakebook”?
This is a new nickname given to the most popular social media site in the world, Facebook.
Over 40% of Facebook profiles are actually fake, according to an article from PC1News.com. Recently, I personally was a victim of cyber crime and fake profiling on Facebook. I received an anonymous message from a blank profile explaining that someone had made a fake profile using all my information. I checked it out, and sure enough, not only was my name everywhere, including my DOB, hometown, interests, work information, etc., on the profile, but so were more than 200 of my personal pictures. This definitely gave me the chills and I felt extremely invaded (and yes, my profile was set to private.)
So why would someone have the motivation and incentive to make these imitation profiles? It comes off as malicious and personal, when in reality the majority of the time it has a lot to do with spammers and “virus writers.”
Often, when a fraudulent profile is created, the intention is for people to believe that the person is someone they know, so they would obviously click on various links to access that specific profile. When Facebook users do this, though, it connects them to dangerous websites that can steal personal account information.
There is another side though that is uncomforting. It is common for some fake profiles to be made to imitate people and essentially discredit his/her reputation. For instance, a TechDirt article reported that it has become a popular trend for students to make imitation profiles pretending to be teachers or administrators at their schools or universities, adding many unflattering pictures and false information to the imposter profiles.
These mock profiles have stirred up a number of problems. Some of the teachers who were victims of simulated profiling have gone to extreme lengths, even suing the students for involved for defamation of character. There have been an increasing number of lawsuits in regards to fake profiling. A mother and her teenage son sued four minors for setting up a fraudulent profile that imitated the young boy which included racist and sexual statements. The profile forced the plaintiffs to change clubs and coaches within their school system. The victim claimed he became alienated from his own friends at school (click here to read the full Digg article).
If you are a victim of fake profiling, Facebook assures that they will take care of the problem as soon as they can. In my personal experience, I reported the fake profile, filled out an application with the specifics of the incident and linked the fake profile to the Facebook privacy team. Within 48 hours, the imitiation profile was deleted.
This new trend is alarming and uncomforting. Do you believe this is an invasion of privacy and to what extent?
Or, are you on the other end of the spectrum, agreeing with a New York Times article that refers to Facebook as a “circus ring” and a form of “escapism” that shouldn’t even be taken seriously?
Do you think it is fair to sue over an incident like fake Facebook profiling? If so, under what circumstances? (if it includes racist/sexual statements about you, caused great harm to your reputation, etc.)