Online reputations on sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Google and the like are becoming just as important as offline reputations in terms of getting into university or employment. The internet has been a wild west, where reputations can be damaged with clicks of a mouse. Well, this Saturday online impersonation that seeks to harm becomes a crime in California.
I am unimpressed by the people, who think they can get away with illegal acts online and hide behind presumed anonymity. I think most of my readers will recall these recent events.
Impersonator’s Alley 2010
December 2010 A 27-year-old guard at the Adult Correctional Institutions has been arrested by state police after allegedly pretending to be his boss, department of corrections head A.T. Wall, on a page posted on Facebook. — ACI guard arrested for posing as his boss on Facebook
December 2010 When 18-year-old Ally Pfeiffer found a Facebook profile impersonating her and replacing her photograph with a picture of a cow to mock her weight, she cried.Then she tracked down the billies and charged them. — Facebook Bullies Charged After Victim Tracks Them Down
October 2010 Bloggers from TechCrunch created a fake profile of Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt in order to point out a possible security issue stemming from the way Facebook works. The interesting aspect about this proof-of-concept attack is the use of an email address belonging to the victim during registration, even though the impersonator doesn’t have access to it. — Facebook’s Inner Workings Facilitate Impersonation
October 2010 Australian singer Ella Hooper has been impersonated by a Facebook imposter. The imposter created a Facebook fan page and pretended to be Ella, using photos of the former Killing Heidi star to convince over 5000 fans it was her official page.
September 2010 A Rutgers University student killed himself after his classmates allegedly posted a video of him having sex with another man. — Student Kills Himself After Sex Webcast
April, 2010 The lawyer for a 16-year-old who filed a complaint against his mother that resulted in a misdemeanor harassment charge says it’s OK for parents to monitor a child’s internet activities, but impersonation isn’t. — Impersonating son on Facebook at heart of issue
Felony charges against the woman who prosecutors say drove a 13-year-old girl to suicide through MySpace impersonation have been dropped – but Lori Drew has been found guilty of three counts of misdemeanour. — Woman cleared of felonies in MySpace suicide case
California outlaws online impersonation
Assuming another person’s identity on the internet and fabricating an e-mail or Facebook account, Twitter account, etc. is no longer a laughing matter. Pretending to be someone else on Facebook, or anywhere else online, becomes a crime in California as of this Saturday. A state law effective authored by Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, makes online impersonation, when it seeks to harm someone, illegal.
SB 1411: Criminal E-personation (2010) SB 1411 is no longer active. Its final status was: SB 1411 is no longer active. Its final status was: Signed into Law and you can read its final text on the Legislature’s Bill Information site.
Falsely sourced e-mails, tweets and Web posts have become ubiquitous online, and it’s not uncommon for someone to create a Facebook or MySpace account in someone else’s name. If this is done to “harm, intimidate, threaten or defraud,” according to Senate Bill 1411, it will be a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and a year in jail. — Local lawmaker makes sure nobody else creates your Facebook page
The law specifically prohibits impersonating anyone online with the objective of harming, intimidating, threatening or defrauding. Such acts become misdemeanors punishable by a fine up up to $1000 and a year in jail. — Facebook Fakes Become Misdemeanors Starting 2011
“We respect other people’s rights, and expect you to do the same.
- You will not post content or take any action on Facebook that infringes or violates someone else’s rights or otherwise violates the law.
- We can remove any content or information you post on Facebook if we believe that it violates this Statement.
- We will provide you with tools to help you protect your intellectual property rights. To learn more, visit our How to Report Claims of Intellectual Property Infringement page.
- If we remove your content for infringing someone else’s copyright, and you believe we removed it by mistake, we will provide you with an opportunity to appeal.
- If you repeatedly infringe other people’s intellectual property rights, we will disable your account when appropriate.”
Use Facebook’s IP infringement form to complain.
“The best way to report impersonation submitting a web request from the Support home page–be sure to select impersonation from the dropdown box! Once you’ve submitted your ticket, we’ll email you a ticket confirmation with more information. You can check on your ticket status anytime by visiting your Twitter Support home page and clicking on “check on your existing requests.” If you’re unable to submit a request through our support form or do not have a Twitter account yourself, please send an emailto firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Impersonation” and include the information described above.”
Creating an account on Twitter, Facebook, LinedIn and other major social media and social networking sites got the purpose of impersonation is a Terms of Service violation. Our identity is one of the most personal things we have. Cyberbullying and online impersonation have become the tools of cowardly griever trolls. Critics feared the California law would too broad and might have repercussions for people’s First Amendment rights. But as it stands IMHO the law will not prevent spoofs or political satire.
Related posts found in this blog:
Handle Online Attacks Effectively
Facebook Connections and Reputation Management
Basic Netiquette for Beginner Bloggers
How to remove data from Google’s cache
How to Become a Better Blogger 5: Your Online Presence
Blogging: Online presence and authenticity
Libel: Blogging Rights and Wrongs
How to handle negative comments
- What’s your opinion of this law?
- Do you think this law ought to be implemented in other states as well or not?
- Are you concerned that the law may be interpreted by the Courts in a manner that may have repercussions for people’s First Amendment rights?