I've had my run-ins with fake users on Facebook, they are way more common than you think.
According to CNN, in 2019, there were over 5.4 billion fake/impostor Facebook profiles/pages as of that time, and that Facebook was working hard to rid their site of these frauds. In 2018, the company took down over 3.8 billion fake profiles/pages, so the problem is massive.
There are some very real legal realities of making a fake Facebook profile so you should think twice about making one. Yes, I know the likelihood of you being prosecuted for a fake profile is very slim, but you never know what could happen.
Violation of Facebook Terms
Facebook terms state that each individual can only have one account, specifically they say that "Facebook is a community where people use their authentic identities. It's against the Facebook Community Standards to maintain more than one personal account."
So, as soon as you create a fake profile of someone else, you are entering information that is not your real identity. This fake information does not contain your real employment, relationship, or other statuses and as soon as you type in this "fraudulent" information, you have officially violated Facebook's terms.
You can get around this by making up a fake name and not using any images of anyone else, that is technically not against the rules. Keep in mind people will still be unlikely to add you and they could report you for scamming.
Honestly, violating the Facebook community standards and terms is really the least of the issues you can face. The heavy-hitters come when you begin breaking the law criminally and/or civically.
The moment you upload photos of the "fake" individual, you have committed one or more crimes.
If the photo is someone you found through a google search or took off someone else's profile, you have just:
- Misrepresented your identity
- Stolen intellectual property
- Possibly committed identity theft
Let's start with Misrepresentation.
Misrepresentation is legally referred to as "An assertion or manifestation by words or conduct that is not in accord with the facts."
What this means is that if you are John Doe and you live in Alabama and work as a fence repairman and you create a profile claiming to be Jimmy Smith who lives in Michigan and works for Ford Motor Company; you have outright misrepresented facts: the "facts" are you are NOT Jimmy Smith, you do NOT live in Michigan and you do NOT work for Ford Motor Company.
The misrepresentation builds even further when you begin corresponding with others acting as Jimmy Smith. Misrepresentation is a civil "tort" as opposed to a "crime". Misrepresentation becomes punishable civilly when it creates a loss for the listener/reader.
So, if you're going to make a fake account, you should use a fake name and not try to steal anyone else's likeness or identity.
Stolen Property (Images) Copyright Infringement
The photo(s) you pulled from the internet are not your property to use (unless you have purchased stock images, yet the terms of stock image site also state that images cannot be used in manners that violate the law—in which case, creating a false identity would be a violation of the law). Regardless, you did not take the photos, the photos are not of you and someone else DID take the photos.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) enacted in 1998, prevents others from using images or "work" in general without permission from the author.
Legal Punishments for Copyright Infringement
YOU will be fully responsible for ALL fees incurred by the individual who had to incur a financial loss in efforts to get you to take down their photos.
The route taken by the individual you ripped off the pics from is up to that individual. They may choose to do one or more of the following:
- Hire a lawyer to send you a cease and desist letter and demand you remove the photos (this is providing the individual knows who you are). The costs to retain the lawyer and have the letter sent to you can range from $800–2,000 depending on how much effort went into locating you and the lawyer's hourly rates.
- Hire a lawyer and file a legal case. This can be big, big bucks. If the lawyer needs to send subpoenas to Facebook to obtain your information and so on, you could be looking at owing $8,000+.
- U.S. law states that you are entitled to actual or statutory damages for infringement as provided by 17 U.S.C. Chapter 5, specifically section 504. The damages that you can receive from infringement can amount to 3x the licensing fee for images, so if you happened to rip off an image that was licensed; you could face even more fees. Civil penalties ("damages") for a licensed image can leave the pirate on the hook for up to $150,000 for each misused photo.
- Even copyright infringement cases of non-licensed images have resulted in judgments of over $2,000 plus court costs.
Whether you purposely use someone else's identity as shown in court cases, or you just "make a fake identity", you are operating as an identity that is not your own identity and therefore is likely to cause confusion in addition to harm.
In the case that you make a fake Facebook profile with the direct intention of using someone else real identity; let's say you make a fake profile claiming to be me, or a celebrity, or even a coworker you have now committed identity theft. Court cases have resulted in jail sentences for fake Facebook profiles; in this particular case, a woman was sentenced to 18 months in jail for her fake Facebook profile she created to get back at her ex-boyfriend.
Or, let's say, by pretending to be Jimmy Smith who works for Ford in Michigan....there indeed does happen to be a Jimmy Smith who works for Ford in Michigan and due to your fake profile, Jimmy Smith is now suspended or terminated (pending a full investigation); you may owe Jimmy Smith his salary in addition to legal fees.
You Should Think Twice Before Making a Fake Profile
These issues I have brought up are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the legal ramifications of making a fake profile on Facebook. You're better off just making a profile that represents you instead of pretending to be someone else.
© 2013 POSH by tori boutique
Anthony E Jones on May 06, 2020:
I'd suggest you get a refund on that online law school degree.
Simply creating a facebook account with somoene else's name IS NOT identity theft.
The crime of identity theft requires you to gain something of value using that persons identity. In the case you cited, she WAS NOT convicted of creating a facebook account with her Ex's name. She was convicted because she used her ex's name "to obtain a benefit or to injure or defraud another..."
Anthony E. Jones
Attorney at Law
Rice University Law School, 1995
TX State Bar
Jim Morrison on March 05, 2020:
I lie about my name on facebook, simply cause I don't want to be searched..I don't want law enforcement or anyone else to know my real name...simple...
Maria on September 25, 2019:
Facebook is not able to sell fake accounts, that’s why they are blocking them. Everybody have made fake accounts because we DO NOT TRUST FACEBOOK!
D357RUC70R on June 14, 2019:
I have made more then a couple fake accounts for different games i played every tine it asked for a number “text+ “ free app to get another telephone number to text or call from,, i had an ex post a sex ad on me i got it removed on my own with in 1 hour “techy”
jelena belavska on May 09, 2019:
Never underestimate what a man can do in your absence, i had a few warning signs as regards to my husband and employed the services of a hacker, I really couldn't believe my eyes but I'm glad I found out now rather than later. If you require the services of a professional you can reach on to NETSEVER1 AT GMAIL DOT COM . I guarantee your utmost satisfaction.
Nelda Rice on April 24, 2019:
I notice someone put false or fake last name on Facebook profile
JULIE PEURIFOY on November 30, 2018:
I didn't take any photos off any of the sites nor did I contact the person I'm going to sue facebook
Not A Lawyer on August 26, 2018:
If anything is a crime it is all the misleading and completely inaccurate information in this article.
SANSKRITI RANJAN on August 17, 2018:
Say if someone creates a fake id...then chats with a person they know in real life...just normally and then finally reveals their true identity...will that be a crime as well..? And the one doing it is a minor..
Ramzan Jani on May 12, 2018:
I want know what plenty charged against Pemra rules Pakistan to Black Mail any person through Blue Video Prints on any Facebook timeline?
Jack Notarealname on May 10, 2018:
Of course your should lie whenever Facebook or any other similar service asks you for information. None of them are trustworthy. It not criminal, just playing safe. Only use anagrams of your name so that your friend can have a clue who that is. Never give out your birthday, address, SSN (just in case you were wondering). Better yet give them wrong ones. At least make a little effort to confuse their AI tools. Phone numbers, really? Get an alternative, disposable, email address to use with social media. In the end, you are also helping FB. They risk being sued out o existence for selling personal information. Their defense will be, it is all made up!
Black Sucre _Rosey on April 04, 2018:
WHY IS MY ACCOUNT LOCKED YET IM NOT FAKE,IMPERSONATING OR ABUSIVE?
NotMyRealNameOFC on February 09, 2018:
How does FB expect you to give up your personal informations ? One has to be an idiot (or simply don't know what FB does with your stuff) to create a "real" account.
Cindy on January 22, 2018:
How do you turn someone in? I turn we D them in on FB. FB said they hadn't broken as my rules! What a crock!
Christopher Benson on January 20, 2018:
I made a fake Facebook, but I'm not exposing it on here. And besides, things like Google know almost everything about you. It's until I lost my mind and created a fake identity, later making an account for it. Problem is, I'm active on it.
I'm just a liar, I lie all the time...
Somebody on January 07, 2018:
I made the mistake of using the same phone number for my first fake account for my second one, and facebook caught on and disabled my second account before I could even use it. Yeah, I did use a random photo off of google but I made a fake name under that photo, I didn't use the real name of the actual person of the photo besides I didn't even know the person at all, it was a model off google images lol.
However, my intent for either accounts was not to damage a person's identity, stolen identity theft or even slander. I just wanted an account without my info but to still be able to access facebook features. I do feel guilty now that I've read this, but I don't want to be prosecuted or sued just because I wanted a bogus fb account and still remain anonymous.
that one guy... on December 09, 2017:
will you please stop whit you criminal stuff? am pretty afraid of doing criminal thing sbecose google tracks everything, so technically google knows your ip, adress and all that. so just 1 report...
Tucho Ramirez on December 02, 2017:
You are so full of it, Perry Mason.
I, too, know the law, and I know I can go by any name I want, so long it isn't for the purpose of defrauding, or impersonating an actual person. That means ripping off money. The impersonation must be believable to a reasonable person. If I say I'm Vladimir Putin in a FB profile, that's not believable to a reasonable person. Free Speech allows spoofs.
As Tucho Ramirez once said, "One name's as good as another. It's not good to use your real name."
Ray on September 15, 2017:
What can you do if someone crops a picture of you and sends it to your spouse using a fake Facebook page.
Just to try and mess up your marriage.
Yep on September 08, 2017:
So if a minor uses there parents Facebook account and the minor and adult have sexual chat then mother comes on is mother responsible for daughters illegal use
Sanjay singh on September 01, 2017:
If somebody want to privacy for his & her through Facebook that they maintain or as a medicines make relationship witch as a can medical treatment because all indian society thoughts is bonnded and denger if some body overtake society so that it is need to privacy for his & her treatmant becous some relationship is use a musician
Good Thing You're Not A Lawyer on August 18, 2017:
Good thing you're not a lawyer, because all your clients would be in jail. What a complete moron you are. Do you know the different between "law" and "ethics"? Because, like, half the things you pointed out are ethical trespasses but not legal ones.
1) Violating Facebook terms is not a crime. They cannot sue you for that. They can kick you off the platform, but it's not a legally binding document. Fact.
2) Misrepresentation. "Misrepresentation is a Civil "Tort" as opposed to a "crime". Misrepresentation becomes punishable civally when it creates Loss for the listener/reader." Do you even understand the words you are typing? There is no civil tort of "misrepresentation". What kind of possible loss could you be accused of having caused by creating a fake facebook account? This is where I started to realize you had no idea what you were talking about. Like literally.
3) Stolen Property/Copyright infringement. Wow. The idea that this is stolen property is laughable. You copied a publicly available picture from the internet, you didn't break into their house and steal their computer. The owner was in no way deprived of any material rights by that act, so it's not theft. And it's only copyright infringement if you use the copyrighted material for monetary gain, which you're not in the case of creating a fake FB account. Also, the thing that comes after "#2" is "#3", not "ANOTHER NUMBER TWO. Learn to count.
#4) Identity theft. "Whether you purposely use someone elses identity as shown in court cases, or you just "make a fake identity", you are operating as an identity that is not your own identity and therefore is likely to cause confusion in addition to harm." This makes me question whether you think law is something that you think one just argues from first principles. I mean the level of stupidity here. If you "make a fake identity", you've committed ZERO CRIMES. Zero. If you go to a party and pretend to be Hootenany McFillibuster, rest assured you are staying on the right side of the law. Actual identity theft is a different matter, but that's a small subset of creating a fake Facebook account.
Stick to being POSH, sweetie, and leave the lawyering to people with actual qualifications.
Edward milllsaps is Gerber family airs on August 11, 2017:
firstname.lastname@example.org on August 06, 2017:
stop all fake profiles on face book and other website on the computer today and around the world thank you .
dumb hub is dumb on July 03, 2017:
stop being stupid. Misrepresentation is only a problem when sued to commit a crime
Alice No on May 06, 2017:
The reason I use a fake name, is because I don't want my identity stolen. I don't post fake stuff. The people I interact with know who I am.
Issie on April 27, 2017:
58 yr woman allowed to create multiple accounts to stalk and harass a 13yr girl. Facebook sees no problem in fact it DOES NOT VIOLATE COMMUNITY STANDARDS PER EVERY RESPONSE FROM FB.... THEY SEND OUT AUTO REPLIES AND DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO HANDLE THE PROBLEM
chase wilkins on March 10, 2017:
no one should give their personal info for it to be hacked
Matthew 23 on January 24, 2017:
Actually I had someone message me multiple times threatening to fight me and cyber bully me. I actually know the person he is 17 and since i'm 18 he likes to continuously mess with me because he knows i can't touch him. I called the cops, THEY DID NOTHING. This is why people MURDER people.
Prefer not to say on January 24, 2017:
Everyone makes fake accounts. Online identity theft is very common. For my safety, I refuse to use my real name. It is putting me at risk, and it is setting me up for spam and a trail of other issues. Unless the website is from a government website or my school, I will NOT use my real name. I was bullied on my Facebook with my name. And my bullies find my accounts too. To avoid them, I just used a fake name. I don't even use Facebook anymore. It is vulnerable, and if you have private information, good luck. It is open game to be hacked. Security sucks. My real Facebook, only two people have it. No way will I ever share it. I don't even use it or upload to it.
Myreal Naem on January 12, 2017:
I use an obviously fake name and employment info on Facebook. My reason is that Facebook is for social contacts, who know my name and don't usually need to know where I work. If I want to add professional contacts, I'll use LinkedIn.
Privacy options on Facebook are abysmal, they seem to intentionally hamper usability because they think there's no alternative. As far as I care, I don't trust Facebook enough with my real details.
Also, in a professional setting, I'd rather be judged by my professional ability and qualities, rather than the company I keep. So I keep the two separate - I think that's the smart option.
MUNDO on October 31, 2016:
My mum always told me to never give my name to strangers . So i listen to her and never ever give my real id on any site /forum /gaming site . Expect on official gov website off course .
bilwis on September 07, 2016:
Joseph Renne, you sir are a vigilante.
Teacher on August 13, 2016:
What is the person steals someone's picture and there is a baby in it. Then uses it as a profile pic for a fake profile she uses to manipulate and harass friends and lovers?
Official_Deadpool on July 31, 2016:
But what if your just having a role-play account, say I was pretending to Indiana Jones or James bond, there are so many people out there who do this, could I get arrested?
im a girl on June 22, 2015:
Im not a fake
This Hub Sucks on February 17, 2015:
misinformation and fear mongering.
Mohammad Tanvir Ibne Amin from Dhaka on December 09, 2014:
I usually avoid facebook from the very beginning. But I have to use it for my hubs advertisement. Great hub
zinmin on July 01, 2014:
Neha on April 02, 2014:
Some one creat my fake account by using my pic. . .so wht can I do. . I feel very depressed due to this. . .bcuz he/she using that account nd mention me as sex worker
POSH by tori boutique (author) from 1545 Union Lake Road, Commerce, MI, 48382 on February 10, 2014:
Cherry - report the account
cherry tangente Villasan on January 17, 2014:
please I need your help how to cancel that account someone she is using my full name pictures.....cherry tangente Villasan. the lady she is making that account here Nama cherry costelo cervantes. She is lady of my ex husband.
siddra khan on September 29, 2013:
Pretend to be someone else
Use a fake name
Don't represent a real perso
I've never had a fake profile on any website and don't know why I would have a reason to. My guess is that anyone who creates fake profiles is doing so for financial gai
POSH by tori boutique (author) from 1545 Union Lake Road, Commerce, MI, 48382 on August 14, 2013:
Do not verify your account through an email you receive. Log into your Facebook through the main site (Facebook.com) and see if you are getting the same error messages.
nana on August 01, 2013:
I am not fake but this happen
Please Verify Your Identity
It looks like your account might not be real. Facebook is a community where people share and interact using their real identities.
Facebook does not allow accounts that:
Pretend to be someone else
Use a fake name
Don't represent a real person
In order to regain access to your account, please complete the following security check to verify your identity and help keep Facebook secure.
I am so frustrated with this.. I am scared if someone stolemy identity...
POSH by tori boutique (author) from 1545 Union Lake Road, Commerce, MI, 48382 on June 18, 2013:
@Joseph Renne - I do as well!
Joseph Renne from Milton on June 17, 2013:
I hate Fakes. I flag as much as I can. Great Hub
Fakeo@1 on April 19, 2013:
It's far from criminal, unless you make it so. IF you want to make a page and just escape that is okay. As long as you do not involve people who you convince your real....
Dave Smith from Michigan on March 31, 2013:
There are a lot of fake profiles around. Some people use them to play games without exposing their family and friends to a huge amount of spam. Promote a blog without everyone knowing your business. It isn't always about a criminal aspect. Sometimes it is for privacy or an escape from people that you don't want to know every detail of your life.
HowIConquered on March 24, 2013:
I've never had a fake profile on any website and don't know why I would have a reason to. My guess is that anyone who creates fake profiles is doing so for financial gain. Most likely to sale the "likes" the profile makes on fan pages or the "friend adds" so people can appear popular.