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.