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Fake Facebook Profiles: Are They Legal? Can I Get in Trouble?

Updated on May 4, 2016
image compliments of istrategylabs.com
image compliments of istrategylabs.com

Introduction to Fake Facebook Profiles

In August of 2012, CNN reported that there were currently over 83 MILLION fake / impostor Facebook profiles as of that time - and that Facebook was working hard to rid their site of these frauds.

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Crime #1: Violation of Facebook Terms

Facebook Terms state that each individual can only have one account. In a quote from Facebook: "Facebook is a community where people share and interact using their real identities. When everyone uses their real name"

So, as soon as you create a fake profile, 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 Terms.



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Crime #2: Misrepresentation

Honestly, violating Facebook Terms is really the least of the issues you can face. The heavy-hitters come when you begin breaking the law Criminally and/or Civially.

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 elses profile, you have just 1. Misrepresented your Identity, 2. Stolen interlectual Property and 3. 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 rapir man and you create a profile claiming to be Jimmy Smith who lives in Michigan and works for Ford Motor Company; you have outright misreprensented 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 corrosponding with others acting as Jimmy Smith.

Misrepresentation is a Civil "Tort" as opposed to a "crime". Misrepresentation becomes punishable civally when it creates Loss for the listener/reader.



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Crime #2: 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.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) enacted in 1998, prevents others from using images or "work" in general without the permission from the author.

Legal Punishments for Copyright Infringement:

YOU will be fully responsible for ALL fees incured by the individual who had to incur Loss in efforts to get you to take down their photos.

The route the individual you ripped off the pics from is up to that individual. They may choose to do one or more of the following:

1. Hire a Lawyer to send you a Cease and Dessit 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 rang from $800 - $2,000 depending on how much effort went into locating you and the lawyers hourly rates.

2. 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+.

3. 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.

4. Even copyright infriengement cases of NON LICENSED images have resulted in judgements of over $2,000 plus court costs.

Crime #3: 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.

In the case that you make a fake facebook profile with the direct intention of using someone elses 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 already issued 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.

Image Compliments of slamxhype.com
Image Compliments of slamxhype.com


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    • profile image

      HowIConquered 4 years ago

      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.

    • michiganman567 profile image

      michiganman567 4 years ago from Michigan

      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.

    • profile image

      Fakeo@1 4 years ago

      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....

    • Joseph Renne profile image

      Joseph Renne 4 years ago from Milton

      I hate Fakes. I flag as much as I can. Great Hub

    • Poshbytori profile image

      POSH by tori boutique 4 years ago from 1545 Union Lake Road, Commerce, MI, 48382

      @Joseph Renne - I do as well!

    • profile image

      nana 3 years ago

      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...

    • Poshbytori profile image

      POSH by tori boutique 3 years ago from 1545 Union Lake Road, Commerce, MI, 48382

      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.

    • profile image

      siddra khan 3 years ago

      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

    • profile image

      cherry tangente Villasan 3 years ago

      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.

    • Poshbytori profile image

      POSH by tori boutique 3 years ago from 1545 Union Lake Road, Commerce, MI, 48382

      Cherry - report the account

    • profile image

      Neha 3 years ago

      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

    • profile image

      zinmin 3 years ago

      help me

    • doris and me profile image

      Mohammad Tanvir Ibne Amin 2 years ago from Dhaka

      I usually avoid facebook from the very beginning. But I have to use it for my hubs advertisement. Great hub

    • profile image

      This Hub Sucks 2 years ago

      misinformation and fear mongering.

    • profile image

      im a girl 2 years ago

      Im not a fake

    • profile image

      Official_Deadpool 11 months ago

      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?

    • profile image

      Teacher 11 months ago

      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?

    • profile image

      bilwis 10 months ago

      Joseph Renne, you sir are a vigilante.

    • profile image

      MUNDO 8 months ago

      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 .

    • profile image

      Myreal Naem 6 months ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Prefer not to say 6 months ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Matthew 23 6 months ago

      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.

    • profile image

      chase wilkins 4 months ago

      no one should give their personal info for it to be hacked

    • profile image

      Issie 2 months ago

      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

    • profile image

      Alice No 2 months ago

      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.

    • profile image

      dumb hub is dumb 3 weeks ago

      stop being stupid. Misrepresentation is only a problem when sued to commit a crime

    • profile image

      Adnan 4 days ago

      In Slovenia it isn't

      isn't so illegal

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