Careful With That Fake Social Networking Profile; If You 'Personate' Someone, You Can Go To Jail

from the careful-who-you-mock dept

We've seen numerous lawsuits involving schools punishing students for setting up fake social networking profiles of principals or teachers. However, could setting up a fake profile actually be a criminal offense that gets you sent to jail? Evan Brown has the news of how a California appeals court has ruled that a guy who set up a fake MySpace profile of his former pastor can stand trial for the crime of "personation." Apparently, in California, it's illegal to (a) assume the persona of someone else and then (b) do something while pretending to be that person that could get that person into legal trouble. So, it's not just setting up the profile that gets you in trouble, but then doing something with the profile (in this case, the guy suggested the pastor used drugs and was gay).


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    RikuoAmero (profile), Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 4:33am

    Hello

    Hey, George W. Bush here, former president of the ol US of A. Just to let people know, I'm actually an Islamic terrorist and am planning to blow up Congress. Now how's that for Personation? ^^

     

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  2.  
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    NullOp, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 5:46am

    Huh!

    Personating is one thing, adding a criminal flavor to it is quite another. Off with their heads!

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 6:33am

    The first thing I thought... Did George W. Bush write this law? "Personate" just sounds like a Bush'ism.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 6:56am

    so effectively we can no longer dress up as any of our idols for halloween b/c we can't personate them.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 7:10am

    Re:

    #3: The article says that in it is illegal in California, which means that it's probably a state law, and to my knowledge the president of the United States does not make state laws. I could ofcourse be wrong though, but if he had really made this law it would probably be a federal law.

     

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  6.  
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    WammerJammer (profile), Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 7:14am

    So funny

    So the Pastor can get up on his pulpit and preach hate speech about the evils of being gay or being a drug user and that's perfectly legal because of the rights of free speech in America. Oxy Morons. Actually I thought the word was impersonate.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 7:36am

    The answer is castration. If successful, it may result in people playing BINGO.

     

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  8.  
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    winston Lawrence, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 8:14am

    Fake Steve Jobs - Go to Jail

    Do you think STeve Jobs was behind this one :-) Seriously they would have to go after Saturday Night Live, Mad Magazine, The Onion, anything Hilton, Madonna or Kardashian
    (on second thoughts maybe this is a good thing - nevermind).

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 8:21am

    I wonder why they don't haven't imprisoned every last actor in Hollywood yet.

     

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  10.  
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    interval, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 8:29am

    Re: Re:

    "...my knowledge the president of the United States does not make state laws. I could ofcourse be wrong though, but if he had really made this law it would probably be a federal law."

    Actually, you were correct in the first point; the Legislative branch of the government makes laws. At best Bush might introduced a bill that would have specified this "Personation" stricture. It would have been up to Congress to make it an actual law, which he then would have had to sign.

     

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  11.  
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    Noeb Ody, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 8:47am

    Fuc|( this draconian sh*t

    As long as you use a ridiculous moniker, the pigs case will fall apart in court!

    Use TOR (Google it)

     

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    Overcast (profile), Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 9:01am

    So if I setup a facebook page of "Idiot Extreme" - then politicians could sue me?

     

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    RobShaver, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 9:15am

    Identity Theft

    "Personation" sounds like a form of identity theft to me. I guess this guy didn't use the pastor's SSN or his credit cards but if he said his name is "X" and is the pastor of "Y" church that's pretty clear. I can think of no legitimate reason to do this other. If your intention is satire then you better make it clear that the web page is satire (like saying at the bottom, "This page is intended as satire and for entertainment purpose only.")

     

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  14.  
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    Vic, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 12:00pm

    Is that law approved by Hollywood?

    'Cause all actors will be guilty under it! Or are there "fair use" provisions?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 1:00pm

    How about assuming the person of Harry Potter?

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 2:53pm

    Re:

    exactly - what about all the fictional character twitter accounts?

     

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  17.  
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    Jay (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 1:41pm

    Doublethink activated

    So... We have police officers who can impersonate girls age 14 for arresting pedophiles, and yet for the average person a fake account leads to a felony?

    Thanks America for showing your hypocrisy!

    Oh, I could go on. You have marketers that now use Twitter. Why can't they get hit with a lawsuit? And if your name just so happens to have been spelled wrongly and coincidently libels someone else? The list could go on and on...

     

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  18.  
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    Hex, Dec 7th, 2010 @ 10:14am

    Missing the Point

    Everyone seems to be missing the point that the lynchpin in all this is that the law states that you must "then (b) do something while pretending to be that person that could get that person into legal trouble".

    Basically, framing them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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