Protecting your identity online is proving increasingly difficult. We’ve covered subjects such as how to secure your Facebook account in the past, but what can you do if someone sets up a rogue account and pretends to be you?
Here we show you how to report someone impersonating you on Facebook or Twitter.
How can someone impersonate you on social media?
It’s easier than you might think. Setting up a new account with a name the same as yours, or a very similar name, is straightforward. Then all they need to do is find a profile picture of you, go through your friends online, and start posting to them or the world at large.
Of course close friends and family will usually spot the ruse, but it can be a distressing experience for the victim, especially if the imposter posts deliberately nasty or inflammatory content.
Thankfully there are steps that can be taken to have these evil doppelgängers removed. In fact Mashable recently reported that Facebook is currently testing a new feature that will alert you if someone is impersonating your account.
The security tool will monitor accounts for duplicate profile pictures and names, then investigate. It’s not available yet, but hopefully we’ll see it introduced before too long.
Until then there are the more standard ways of reporting miscreants.
How do I reporting an imposter on Facebook?
If you have a Facebook account
Facebook provides a quick way to report accounts that you think are impersonating your own. To kick off the process go to the imposter account and click on the three dots to the right of the Message box in the cover photo section at the top of the page.
A drop down menu will appear from which you’ll need to select Report.
A new window will appear with three options. Report something shared by the account, Report this Profile, and I want to help this person.
Select Report this Profile and follow the onscreen instructions. Facebook will then investigate the imposter’s behaviour and hopefully remove their account very quickly.
If you don’t have a Facebook account
Someone can impersonate you online even if you don’t have a Facebook account of your own. In fact it’s probably easier to do it that way.
Fear not though, as the social media giant has safeguards against this sort of identity theft. Just visit Facebook’s Report an Imposter Account page, select the Someone has created an account pretending to be me or a friend option, then follow the on-screen instructions.
Obviously you’ll need to be able to prove you are who you say you are, but that should be easier for you to do than it will be for your digital double.
How do I report an imposter on Twitter?
Twitter is different when it comes to imposter accounts. Anyone familiar with @darthvader, @god, @queen_uk will know that Twitter happily allows parody accounts to exist. In the most part these can be very funny and generally a good thing.
But, if someone has set up a profile to deliberately disparage you in some way, or simply misrepresent you online, then you can report the account using Twitter’s account impersonation page.
If you’ve been a victim of account impersonation on any site then be sure to report it as quickly as possible. Not only is the perpetrator causing you harm, but they might also be using the account to spam and defraud your friends or associates.
The safety measures are there for your protection, so don't be afraid to use them.