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.

As you read this article, please VOTE on the polls - your vote is cast anonymously and you will remain on this page.


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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HAVE YOU MADE A FAKE PROFILE ON ANY SITE?

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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

Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        Not A Lawyer 

        8 weeks ago

        If anything is a crime it is all the misleading and completely inaccurate information in this article.

      • profile image

        SANSKRITI RANJAN 

        2 months ago

        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..

      • profile image

        Ramzan Jani 

        5 months ago

        I want know what plenty charged against Pemra rules Pakistan to Black Mail any person through Blue Video Prints on any Facebook timeline?

      • profile image

        Jack Notarealname 

        5 months ago

        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!

      • profile image

        Black Sucre _Rosey 

        6 months ago

        WHY IS MY ACCOUNT LOCKED YET IM NOT FAKE,IMPERSONATING OR ABUSIVE?

      • profile image

        NotMyRealNameOFC 

        8 months ago

        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.

      • profile image

        Cindy 

        9 months ago

        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!

      • profile image

        Christopher Benson 

        9 months ago

        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...

      • profile image

        Somebody 

        9 months ago

        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.

      • profile image

        that one guy... 

        10 months ago

        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...

      • profile image

        Tucho Ramirez 

        10 months ago

        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."

      • profile image

        Ray 

        13 months ago

        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.

      • profile image

        Yep 

        13 months ago

        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

      • profile image

        Sanjay singh 

        13 months ago

        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

      • profile image

        Good Thing You're Not A Lawyer 

        14 months ago

        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.

      • profile image

        Edward milllsaps is Gerber family airs 

        14 months ago

        Fake billionaire

      • profile image

        michaelgreen894@yahoo.com 

        14 months ago

        stop all fake profiles on face book and other website on the computer today and around the world thank you .

      • profile image

        dumb hub is dumb 

        15 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Alice No 

        17 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

        Issie 

        18 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

        chase wilkins 

        19 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Matthew 23 

        21 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

        Prefer not to say 

        21 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

        Myreal Naem 

        21 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

        MUNDO 

        24 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

        bilwis 

        2 years ago

        Joseph Renne, you sir are a vigilante.

      • profile image

        Teacher 

        2 years 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

        Official_Deadpool 

        2 years 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

        im a girl 

        3 years ago

        Im not a fake

      • profile image

        This Hub Sucks 

        3 years ago

        misinformation and fear mongering.

      • doris and me profile image

        Mohammad Tanvir Ibne Amin 

        3 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

        zinmin 

        4 years ago

        help me

      • profile image

        Neha 

        4 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

      • Poshbytori profile imageAUTHOR

        POSH by tori boutique 

        4 years ago from 1545 Union Lake Road, Commerce, MI, 48382

        Cherry - report the account

      • profile image

        cherry tangente Villasan 

        4 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.

      • profile image

        siddra khan 

        5 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

      • Poshbytori profile imageAUTHOR

        POSH by tori boutique 

        5 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

        nana 

        5 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 imageAUTHOR

        POSH by tori boutique 

        5 years ago from 1545 Union Lake Road, Commerce, MI, 48382

        @Joseph Renne - I do as well!

      • Joseph Renne profile image

        Joseph Renne 

        5 years ago from Milton

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

      • profile image

        Fakeo@1 

        5 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....

      • michiganman567 profile image

        michiganman567 

        5 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

        HowIConquered 

        5 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.

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