What to do when someone steals your identity on Facebook?

14 Dec

facebook logoDid you know that anyone can become you on facebook? Not a spam program or a robot – another human acting as you? I didn’t either, until this weekend when it happened to me.

Someone stole my profile picture and made an account in my name – I’m the only one of me in the world I think, so when I started getting notifications that I was commenting on my own posts I checked it out. Well…it was me! But it wasn’t! It was a new account, my photo but no info. And the comments they were posting were disgusting and not random. Things targeted at me, trying to shame me – as if I normally post on facebook that I’m a prostitute and have a lot of STD’s, and just generally telling myself off and people I know.

This is the tamest one with the cleanest language that I found. Most had lots of swearing, seemed written by a teenager, and who really uses the c-word?

IMG_20151213_190249What is the point of this? In my case – who knows? Some angry troll with lots and lots of spare time and no friends and nothing better to do I guess. End game – who knows too? Did they think anyone who knew me would really think I posted these things? Probably not – so go back to lonely  with too much time. In my case, I’m a grown up, I’ve got pretty thick skin, it’s the internet and I really didn’t care too much. Annoying, but not world shattering to say the least. I reported them to facebook and so did several friends, and by evening the account was gone.

What does this mean to you? Or to your kids? Your business? Anyone can take your info and make an account, and some people might believe it’s you.

I was shocked to find out that anyone can do this – make up a fake email, steal their photo and you’re ready to go. This could be upsetting and really disruptive to a lot of people. It could be horrific for a teenager though. This really scared me thinking of that, for me – who cares? For a teenager, if everyone you know saw you posting about being a slut or a prostitute – and it’s your name and photo. And over and over and over with rude and disgusting posts, all seemingly coming from you? We all know how quickly things spread on the internet.

Imagine that teenager being bombarded with people reading these posts they’ve supposedly written – how could they get over this and function. It’s time for a wakeup call for parents, and for facebook! If you’ve got kids on facebook, sit them down and explain that this could happen to them. And if your kids aren’t on facebook yet, you might want to rethink it. But sitting down for a long conversation about online safety is key. There’s no way to avoid trolls like this, random strangers. But with teens I could see that they’d gang up on someone, in theory it might sound funny. But for them to be assaulted 24/7 with this kind of garbage?

And if you run a business, imagine someone posting as you all over facebook – imagine how quickly that could ruin your good name, especially for a small business.

If this does happen to you there are ways to deal with it:

  • If you’re a kid, tell your parents, your teacher, any adult you choose to help you resolve it. Don’t be embarrassed – but it’s not something you should deal with on your own.
  • Report the account to facebook, click on their name and there’s a lot of choices of what to report them for. Get friends and family to report them too – facebook does read these and deal with it.
  • Keep track of everything that is posted since depending the outcome and who was doing this to you, you might end up involving the police, or your school. Screenshots are free but they can end up to be very valuable.
  • Check once in a while that no one is using your name – and make sure if you see someone impersonating a friend to let them know. If you’re not sure if it’s real or not, just ask them. Better safe than sorry, and the faster you get them shut down the better.

This is just my own personal cautionary tale – it was eye opening for me. First because there are such sad and lonely people in the world. But mostly because it really shocked me of thinking of how this could affect a teenager who’s online. We all hear and read stories on kids committing suicide because of online bullying – someone impersonating them could really be a nasty blow to them.

And you’d think the easy solution would be to just not be on facebook – but even if you’re not there, anyone can still be you. It’s really a maddening situation, and really good to be aware of this.

If you are being bullied online, you can contact KidsHelpPhone, Bullying Canada, Prevnet and many more!

Has this ever happened to you or someone you know? How did it turn out for them? Any tips on how to avoid this?

One Reply to “What to do when someone steals your identity on Facebook?”

  1. This has never happened to me and my page is even more boring than most people. I post no pic, I have allowed only one friend even tho others have requested. Call me a party pooper but as much as Facebook has helped Lillian’s of people in this world in many ways, ie finding loved ones, just keeping in touch, helping people out of desperate situations, there are always those that have to abuse a good thing.

    Have you ever watched “Catfish” show on Sat and Sunday nights in Wpg on MTN. Ladt nite there was exactly a girl who was caught doing the very same thing for 6 yrs now. Her real name is Tracy and she was messing up many people for years. The show last night was where a legit lady was fed up with the abuse, but paid a dear price in the first few yrs of her site, profile and pic being stolen ie depression. Then it went away. Then a couple yrs later this Tracy started again in her. This time the victim asked Catfish to help her. It was not until Tracy was told that she will probably lose her job with little children if she does not cease her harassment, that she finally woke up and realized the damage she has been doing by cyber bullying. This same Tracy, ironically, was on Dr Phil a few months ago for her very bad mishaviours.

    So I feel for you and as you say you are an adult who sees through all of this but how many teenagers commit suicude over these cyber bullies.

    Thank you for letting us know what happened to you. I am glad it is all straightened out.

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