Earlier today a good friend, Professor Niklas Myhr aka “The Social Media Professor” of Chapman University, reached out to me about his social media profile picture, bio, and content, being used to impersonate him. He was looking for thoughts, ideas and legal solutions to help fix the problem (because this is a problem we all face, Professor Myhr gave me permission to use his name in this post).
I don’t think Professor Myhr (follow him on Twitter) is very happy about his identity being used by someone else. I say this with confidence because I know exactly how he feels. Over the years, my profile picture and bio have also been used by scammers to misrepresent who they are. Because this is a problem that seems to be getting worse, I’m sharing a few legal tips you can use if this happens to you.
Before I go forward, please understand that while I am a really good (and very humble) California lawyer, I’m not your lawyer. No legal advice is being given in this post. What I am trying to do is share concepts, approaches, and resources you can use to protect yourself.
Social media profile theft (SMPT) comes in all shapes and sizes. For purposes of this post, I will be referring to two types of SMPT which include:
(1) recreational SMPT and
(2) criminal SMPT.
Recreational SMPT usually involves people who are bored and seeking attention. Some are nasty individuals using online anonymity to disrupt other people’s lives. They show up, set up their SMPT and see what happens.
Criminal SMPT uses the same approaches to defraud and commit crimes. They are trying to scam money from unsuspecting victims or establish relationships using false facts and fraud.
Regardless of the motives of criminal SMPT, the perpetrators are cruel, hateful and usually exhibit an intent to destroying reputations, businesses and promote a criminal enterprise.
Both kinds of SMPT can be slowed down and often completely stopped using these approaches and techniques.