Monday, January 30, 2012

Real Me vs. Fake Me: Accept No Substitutes!

You know what's weird? To see yourself under "people you may know" on Facebook.

That happened to me last week. At first I thought it was a glitch, but then some of my Facebook friends started asking me why I was friending them again when we were already friends.

WTF? I think in my head, rather loudly. I'm not doing that!

A little investigation revealed that some 370455V (if you read that upside down you'll get my drift*) had set up a Facebook account using my name and my profile picture. Grrr.

Now, Linda Grimes is a fairly common name. There are over three hundred of us in the USA alone.

But only one of us is authorized to use that cigar-smoking pic of me.

At first I felt violated. Shocked that someone would pretend to be me and try to friend people from my friends list. That's fraud, people. F-R-A-U-D. And fraud ain't funny.

So, why would anyone do this? Hell if I know. Cigar fetish? They just want some attention? Their biggest aspiration is to be a middle-aged lady who's barely a blip on the internet? Really? They're too chicken to go after the big names?

Geez, get a life, Fake Me. Preferably your own.

I reported it to the Facebook powers that be, and so did several of my friends. (Thank you, btw!) FB said they'd look into it.

Then TG reported that one of his photographs (he's the one who took that pic of me) had been used by the Fake Me without his permission, and that only the Linda Grimes who happened to be his wife was  authorized to use that photo. (Well, other than my publisher. I've given Tor permission to use it however they see fit. I trust they are not setting up fake FB accounts in my name.)

To FB's credit, Fake Me's profile pic of me was taken down within hours (or at least blocked from anyone's view). So now that particular Linda Grimes is only one of many on FB, and no one should mistake her for me.

This whole episode has made me realize just how vulnerable all of us are on the web. Really, anyone can steal your picture and and pretend to be you. I imagine a malignant soul could do your reputation a whole lot of damage if they chose. Scary, huh?

How to prevent it? Heck if I know. Just keep watch at the major social networking sites, and report it as soon as you can, I guess. Google your own name from time to time and see where your image pops up. Maybe add your own name to Google alerts, and let it keep track for you.

So, has anything like this ever happened to you? What did you do about it?


P.S. If you see "me" around the interwebz acting stranger than usual (yes, I realize that would be a stretch), could you please let me know?


*Okay, with a little imagination, you'll see "Asshole." There. I said it.

22 comments:

Anne Gallagher said...

Oh wow, that is so scary. I've had my identity stolen 3 times and that is a nightmare unto itself.

Why would anyone do that on FB though? That's so weird. What did they hope to gain?

Sarah Pearson said...

Wow, sorry you had to go through that. Like Anne said, what the heck is the point? Definitely a downside to social networking.

Patty Blount said...

Interesting... I too, wonder at their motive... Thanks for this PSA, Linda, and glad it's been resolved.

Karla Nellenbach said...

glad your issue was resolved, although that's pretty scary stuff. this is one of those times that i'm glad my name is rather unique. makes it easier to keep an eye on things :)

Delia said...

Oh wow, that is weird. I mean, people steal identities all the time, but why would they send requests to people who were already your friends? Strange. Glad you got it resolved, though.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Ugh, that is creepy! Why would someone do that? That is so disturbing. But I'm glad they took the picture down.

Steph Schmidt said...

Wow that person must be either desperate for attention or think you'll be the next JK Rowling. Usually this stuff is okay-ish (and kinda funny) if the person stresses they're a parody account (like the Brooklyn cobra)...but there's no reason for someone to parody you. Happy to see FB nipped it in the bud.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

That is so creepy. Good thing Facebook acted on the complaints. I've had sites steal my photography before, but not an actual photo of me to use for a fake account.

abby mumford said...

that is beyond bizarre because isn't the point of stealing someone's identity to further your own interests and such, not to try to imitate the identity you're stealing?

ooh, creepy! i have goosebumps! i'm so glad this seems to have resolved itself and i too will keep a closer eye on my social networking stuff!

Teri Anne Stanley said...

How bizzare...that I got caught pretending to be you...it's the camel thing.

But seriously (?!) I once used a pharmacy that had another customer with the same name, getting another version of the same prescription. We used to pick up each other birth control pills all the time. Too bad she wasn't the one who forgot to take them...I could send her the surprise (blessing, much wanted, very much loved, in case you are reading this) kid that resulted...

Michele Shaw said...

Wow! That is scary. Nothing like that (that I know of) has happened to me. But, like you, I figure who would want to pretend to be me, and why? My picture has been downloaded from my blog twice, but I've never seen it anywhere, so I don't know what those people are doing with it. I'm sure I don't want to know...

Judy,Judy,Judy. said...

Eek maybe you have a stalker. Or some crazed person trying to figure out how to get Daniel Craig out of your basement. No, it's not me. Tawna?

Carol Kilgore said...

Creepy and scary. Glad Facebook knows and took it down. Keep alert.

Kimberly Sabatini said...

Wow!!! That is scary and you're right-I think it's so hard to keep track of all this! Crazy! Besides-totally couldn't handle two of you--you'd wear me out!

Kristina L. Martin said...

Keep us posted on this. AND use it in your next book. :)

Jessica Lemmon said...

Now see? That someone would do something like that would never have occurred to me. Perhaps I'm too trusting. Or naive. Or optimistic. Maybe a bit of all three?

Good safety tip, Egon. (#ghostbusters)

I'll definitely be aware that this does happen to us little folk, and not only Hollywood Elite.

Patsy said...

What a weird thing for a person to do. If I'm ever not sure if I've come across the real you, I'll ask a few searching camel related questions - I'm sure that'd reveal the truth.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

That IS pretty creepy! And bizarre!
Not that you're not worth emulating, but really ... what was the purpose?

Are you sure you haven't been sleep-face-booking?

Kasie West said...

Wow, now you know how the celebrities feel. People posing as them all over the place online. That's crazy. And frustrating. And I think I need your autograph. :)

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

That is totally weird, and dare I say ... pointless? To what stinking end would anyone do that? (Nobody's "gaslighting" you, are they???)

Nancy Kelley said...

It is so, so easy to fake an ID online. We've all known that since what, 1997, when our parents were convinced the internet was inhabited solely by creepy men named Len who were just waiting for you to lower your guard so they could kidnap you the instant you got off the plane to visit them.

Anyway, Len aside, it's only a short jump from "easy to fake an ID" to "easy to steal an ID." I have yet to find fake Nancys online, but I do keep an eye out for my name and face.

Trisha Leigh said...

It is a bit of a wake up call, especially for those of us who take care in maintaining the web image we want people to find. You're right. Be vigilant.

Good thing I'm online about 10 hours a day. None of that crap's getting by me. :)