Your reputation and image at stake: Social media impersonations

Social networks are of great importance, being used by the vast majority of citizens not only to share certain aspects of their lives but also as fundamental tools for building a good personal reputation.

Thus, in general, our content remains on our profile, and we are the ones who decide what we want to publish and write, but, as always, all platforms have their dangers. 

In this sense, phishing is on the rise, not only being used to damage the reputation and image of victims, but also being the ideal mechanism to commit various criminal offences.

What is impersonation? 

Identity theft can be defined as conduct consisting of one person impersonating another, in order to obtain a specific benefit.

However, it is worth mentioning that this "impersonation" of a person must be realistic, with the offender making others believe that he or she is the victim.

On the Internet, and as we have already mentioned above, this behaviour focuses on creating fake profiles with the victim's data and content, and even interacting with third parties

What are the most common types of social media? 

Despite the fact that different interests can be presented, the most common impersonations that we have been encountering on social networks lately are the following: 

  • Creation of fake profiles with the aim of revealing secrets and undermining reputation and image of the victim vis-à-vis third parties. 
  • Creation of fake profiles for committing scamseither by referring to links to paid platforms with intimate content (e.g. OnlyFans) or by directly impersonating the victim to solicit money from acquaintances (cyber scams). In such cases, the creativity of the offenders can be surprising. 
  • Creation of fake profiles in order to send malware links to third parties in order to steal personal or financial data and information, as well as even sabotaging the victim's devices. (known as "phishing"). 

What are the consequences of impersonating a person? 

In these cases, we can find ourselves in two situations. The most serious are those related to phishing or cyber-scams, can amount to real crimes. 

In this sense, our Penal Code, in Article 401, covers "usurpation of civil status", a conduct that is completely comparable to impersonation. 

Therefore, although impersonation is not expressly referred to, this article serves as a basis for considering this type of conduct as a true crime

However, in cases where the intention is to harm the person being impersonated, In this case, if the reputation and image of the person concerned are damaged, we will have to resort to the right to honour and to one's own image, specifically to Organic Law 1/1982 of 5 May 1982. 

However, these avenues require the victim to be able to prove the impersonation, as well as the harm that may have been caused, which in many cases is complicated. 

So, many times, The best thing to do is to try to report it through the tools available on the various platforms, However, it seems that many victims are left stranded in this way, given the networks' refusal to remove these profiles. 

Therefore, despite possible refusals, we must not give up, by being able to turn to the appropriate professionals to solve the problem as quickly and efficiently as possible, achieving the elimination of the fake profiles and protecting the honour, privacy, privacy and self-image of the impersonated victims.

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