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Mar 16 2013

Facebook tells a whopper

The CBC doesn’t seem to consider internet harassment just “drama” or “playing the victim card” or similar. The CBC takes it seriously enough to report on it, at least.

An Alberta man found out just how ugly an online debate can become when someone hijacked his identity and went on a crude Facebook rampage.

He joined a Facebook page about preserving an Edmonton airport – whoa, controversial, right?! – and things got heated.

One of the users started harassing him, using profane language, so Ken blocked him.

This only angered the man and he recreated Ken’s Facebook profile, stealing his real profile pictures, his name and even where he worked.

The man then started posting racist, homophobic and exceptionally crude things under Ken’s name. One status claimed Ken was a rapist.

I thought everybody was allowed to do that. I thought that was “humor” – “parody” – “satire” – “lighthearted joking.” No?

Ken said he repeatedly reported the problem to Facebook. He asked dozens of Facebook friends to report the fake profile, but claims the company did nothing.

That’s Facebook. Facebook – unlike CBS – Doesn’t Care.

Steph Guthrie, who makes her living as an online activist but specializes in outing internet trolls who harass behind the cloak of anonymity, said she sees situations like Ken’s all too often.

“Harassment is unfortunately extremely common on the internet,” she said.

“The identity thefts side of things is maybe less common, but it’s definitely one of those key tools in an internet harasser’s arsenal.”

She said stealing someone’s identity is illegal, but Facebook rarely bothers to act.

Guthrie said police tend to prioritize investigations with financial or physical threat, so people just suffer in harassment cases, which can harm their well-being and reputation.

Yes but you see that’s their problem because they are out in public. If they weren’t out in public, the harassers wouldn’t know about them, so obviously it’s their own fault that they’re being harassed.

Facebook finally shut down the fake page today after being contacted by CBC News.

Ah well done Facebook! Do nothing for two years – and react only when the CBC taps you on the shoulder. You lying shits.

Account co-ordinator Claire LaRocca said the social media company takes the privacy of their users’ information very seriously.

“It is a violation of our policies to use a fake name or operate under a false identity, and we provide resources for both users and non-users to report false accounts through our Help Centre,” she said.

That is a shameless lie. Just ask my friend EllenBeth Wachs.

 

10 comments

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  1. 1
    Bjarte Foshaug

    I don’t think they bothered to ask Taslima Nasreen either..

  2. 2
    Ace of Sevens

    And lots of employers check Facebook as part of their hiring process. Just another reason this should be illegal.

  3. 3
    Gordon Willis

    Ken said he repeatedly reported the problem to Facebook. He asked dozens of Facebook friends to report the fake profile, but claims the company did nothing.

    He has reported the problem twice to the RCMP, who confirmed they are investigating, but to Ken’s knowledge not much has been done.

    Now, two years after his identity was hijacked, he is speaking to the media in an attempt to get action and warn others about how easy it is for someone to set up a fake profile in their name.

    You mean there are no libel laws in Canada, or that there are are no libel laws affecting posters on Facebook, or that Facebook has no liability for the stuff it allows to be posted? Or that libel laws are so difficult to invoke that they might as well be disregarded for the practical purposes of Facebook?

  4. 4
    Jane Maple

    Facebook are, however, quick to refuse acounts to people whose names they say are not real like a friend whose surname really is Pygge (I have quoted this with her permission), and to shut down accounts which they say are fake identities without any proof to that effect.

  5. 5
    Bernard Hurley

    “It is a violation of our policies to use a fake name or operate under a false identity, and we provide resources for both users and non-users to report false accounts through our Help Centre,” she said.

    Hmm… So it’s a violation of their polices to use a false identity and they helpfully provide resources for people to report such violations. But all this is useless if they don’t actually do anything when such violations are reported.

  6. 6
    rnilsson

    How much insight into the creation/upshot/creator of Basefook is actually needed for a back-of-the-envelope psych assessment and cost-benefit analysis of assigning one’s entire personal life and reputation to this mega corporation? Do I, for example, need to watch the entire movie, or will a few select cuts provide sufficient basis for decision?

    Well, I don’t know, I’m probably just too lazy to investigate. Kind of funny how well that describes FB too, now isn’t it?

    In the unlikely event I wish to look at my own face, I have a few mirrors in my home. (And on my car, but there I appear to be more distant, apparently ;) — thanks, Penny, Louise, The cruellest month 2007)

  7. 7
    jamessweet

    On the flip side, when I first signed up for Facebook, I had to wait an extra day and get special approval because apparently having the last name of “Sweet” tripped their “must be a phoney name!” filters. It seems like they aren’t really managing that part of their business very well… :/

  8. 8
    Pierce R. Butler

    Steph Guthrie, who makes her living as an online activist …

    Sounds interesting. How does that work, and are they hiring?

  9. 9
    MJA

    There’s a reason Consumerist has turned “we take this very seriously” into a meme.

  10. 10
    Jafafa Hots

    Meanwhile Facebook has finally admitted that they are tracking the online movements of people who don’t even have Facebook accounts (via the “like” and “sign in” buttond on various websites)

    They are very good at paying attention to what you do if it makes them money, even if you aren’t a Facebook user and aren’t on Facebook.

    But if it happens ON Facebook to a Facebook user but paying attention isn’t profitable? Tough crap.
    (Sleazy company – even at it’s conception it was designed to be sleazy)

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