What do you do when somebody steals your identity? Sadly, it’s something that more of us face on a daily basis. We’re not talking about fraudulent bank transactions or credit cards taken out in our names…. we’re talking about real people, pretending to be us, using our real pictures, imitating our real, everyday lives.
That’s exactly the situation I found myself facing this morning. It stumped me. I read an email from a stranger notifying me that my images were being used by a fake Facebook profile and my legs felt like they were giving way beneath me. I’m not a celebrity. I’m not a big shot blogger or YouTuber that somebody would want to pretend to be, what was in it for them?
The most disturbing thing of all – they weren’t publicly available images. They’d been taken directly from my own Facebook page – which meant that it had to be somebody I knew. Feelings of distrust, betrayal and paranoia flashed before my eyes. I thought about removing my profile – but it’s my career – social media is the very thing that I’ve spent so many years of my life developing. And so, I found myself between a rock and a hard place.
It’s genuinely made me evaluate my approach to social media. Flickr is now set to private, Facebook has distant friends removed. It’s just another reminder that in today’s society, content that you put on to the web can be used by anyone, regardless of their intentions. But the best thing to come out of everything is the outpouring of love. The true love of my closest friends, of my internet friends, of friends I’m yet to make. It served as a reminder that for the sad few that can’t be trusted, there are twice if not three, four times as many people with genuine intentions. The internet has introduced me to some of the most amazing people I could only ever have wished to meet and for that, I am grateful.
The takeaway is that I need to be more considered with the content that I post, but more importantly that I’m flattered that I’m so AWESOME that someone wants to pretend to be me. I’d rather be out there, living a life that someone wants to re-create than sat behind a computer pretending to be somebody that I’m not…