Phone: (919) 784-0010
Several years ago, our firm was retained by a successful fashion model who discovered that personal information about her and her family, including a number of her personal photographs, had been used to create fictitious or “fake” profiles on several social media websites. The client was not being impersonated; rather, details about her life were used to create an online persona for a person who did not actually exist.
Our client first contacted the social media sites where the profiles were created. She found that although the creation of fictitious profiles violated the sites’ terms of service, nothing in the terms required their removal, so the sites declined to help. She next went to law enforcement, only to be told that because the responsible person was not attempting to obtain money, no crime had been committed. While a few states had laws relating to the creation of fictitious internet personas (California, New York, Texas, Mississippi, Washington, and Hawaii), none of those states’ laws applied in this case.
Believing she had nowhere else to turn, our client next went to a local reporter who referred her to us. After noting that the fictitious profiles contained copyright protected photographs, we submitted takedown notices to each of the sites under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. All of the profiles were removed within 48 hours. We have since consulted in two similar cases, one of which involved the impersonation of an NFL cheerleader.