Removing fake FB profile?
July 8, 2011 3:36 PM   Subscribe

My father is a relatively well-known public figure. Someone has created a fake Facebook profile in his name. It's pretty much impossible to contact FB directly to complain. Suggestions?

My dad is a government official, he works in a rather dangerous country, and he's pretty controversial in the public media there. (As in: security is a big deal for him.) He doesn't use any social media sites, although much of his biographical info is available online. Someone created a FB profile in his name -- not a "public figure" page or an organization/concept/band/etc. page, but a regular old personal profile -- and has been sending friend requests to my family and friends. Some of whom, despite email warnings against it, have accepted.

FB has a "report fake profile" section in their "report abuse" interface. However when I do that I have to select between:

- impersonating me - clearly not the case
- impersonating a friend - okay, but then I'm supposed to select the impersonated party from my list of FB friends, and he's not on FB
- impersonating a public figure - okay, but then I'm supposed to choose from a list of public figures, and he's not on it.

I've actually tried all of these options anyway, but other than automated email responses, nothing's happening. I also sent a bug report in explaining that the impersonation didn't fall into the three categories in their abuse reporting interface. (Also nothing.) FB has no phone number, no email address, so not sure what else can be done.

Nothing on the profile now is harassing or even wrong -- it's all bio info culled from elsewhere on the web -- but I don't like the idea of someone getting information on the friends and family members who accepted the friend request. And yeah, at the end of the day, it's fake!
posted by anonymous to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Why not create a locked down Facebook profile for him and then have him and as many trusted friends and family as possible report the impersonation?
posted by jedicus at 3:38 PM on July 8, 2011 [5 favorites]

- impersonating me - clearly not the case

Not clear at all to me. Sending friend invites to your family and friends sounds exactly like impersonation.
posted by jon1270 at 3:41 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yes but it's not the case because the person is not impersonating Anon, they're impersonating Anon's father. It's the "me" that's clearly not the case, not the "impersonating"
posted by brainmouse at 3:47 PM on July 8, 2011

It's his dad, not him.

How about a lawyer letter to facebook requiring them to take it down? Their address is online.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:47 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

According to this page, there's a "pretending to be someone i know" option.

Also: if security is genuine issue for your dad, then someone could be using your dads fake profile to gather information on his friends and family as a way to later cause harm to them, and by extension, your dad. If you can't get Facebook to comply via the form, notify the police, in whatever jurisdiction wherever you are that handles these things.
posted by Kololo at 3:49 PM on July 8, 2011 [4 favorites]

Apparently if you call Facebook (650-543-4800) the second option given is for "Law Enforcement" by which they mean sworn officers. Perhaps this problem should be handled by his security team.
posted by carmicha at 3:49 PM on July 8, 2011 [6 favorites]

Can you fill this out as an 'authorized representative of your Dad?
posted by grapesaresour at 3:52 PM on July 8, 2011

If your father is an American government employee and he has a security clearance (which it sounds like he may), he should be sure to also report this to his agency's special security officer (SSO).
posted by A Sock Puppet we can Believe in at 4:20 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Facebook is NOT helpful in situations like this. In this case, (radio interview, sorry no transcript), the person had to visit the FB offices in CA to get action. There is a side bar with an official statement from FB.

With that in mind, I'd follow the advice of Kololo and carmicha and contact authorities/law enforcement.
posted by snsranch at 4:26 PM on July 8, 2011

Have your dad work it from his end. Facebook probably won't do jack if prodded by their user base, but I bet the security apparatus gets more attention.
posted by valkyryn at 4:51 PM on July 8, 2011

Yes but it's not the case because the person is not impersonating Anon, they're impersonating Anon's father.

d'oh. Of course.
posted by jon1270 at 4:53 PM on July 8, 2011

I work in digital/web PR, and had a similar issue where a person created a fake FB profile for one of my clients. They were using this profile to post untrue, mean spirited and libelous information about my client. I documented what was on the profile with screen shots, and got in touch with someone in FB's public relations department, via telephone. I broke down the situation, and they asked for some documentation on my client (proof of ID/traceable email) to prove that my client was actually "The Real" person in question. A few days later the account disappeared. I asked if it was possible to go a step further, and find out who the fake profile maker was. Facebook's PR team shut me down, and said I would need a subpoena to get that info, so we just dropped the issue at that point.

My advice would be to approach their comm's department, and treat this like a PR issue, rather than a security issue. If your father works at a government agency, ask their PR/Comm team to look into it, they'll understand how things get done in this field. I was happy with the response, and they were decent to deal with. Good luck!
posted by EvilPRGuy at 6:11 PM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

This is something that should be handled through your father's security detail, in part because they'll probably have better luck getting through to Facebook than you, but mostly because the security risk this poses is quite severe and they should really be looking into who's doing this and why.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 7:21 PM on July 8, 2011 [4 favorites]

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