Of all the different types of cyberbullying found on the Internet, it can be the most detrimental when someone impersonates you. Impersonation involves a malicious person creating a whole new account using your name, personal information and pictures. Generally, it's for a negative reason: to scam, spread rumours and lies, and harm your reputation.
Also known as e-personation, being impersonated online is scarily easy. Most social media and online platforms don't require identification; all impersonators need is access to an e-mail address, and then they're set to go. They can easily upload whatever profile picture and name they want and post any type of content. So what do you do if you think someone is impersonating you online? Below are some tips and ideas to help you handle a situation like this.
Be practical. Let your social media and online contacts know as soon as possible you are being impersonated online and that any new accounts are fake. If it's possible, report and block that account.
Check your contacts and friends list. Make sure the people you're connected with are actually real and people you can trust. Scan through your list and make sure you delete anyone that you don't know or people you don't want to have access to your information.
Stay calm. It's essential to be calm and make sure you work quickly but carefully. Take screenshots of the fake account and any activity they post and warn your contacts that it's not you.
As tempting as it is, don't contact the imposter. It usually just encourages them to continue and can anger them. Instead, report the person, the account and all the activity. On most online platforms, mainly social media, there is an option to 'report user/content.' This will guide you through various questions and options, flagging the content and having it removed.
Review and update your social media security and passwords. Don't write down or store your personal information anywhere where it can easily be found and used.
Always follow up with these points later on and remain vigilant. Every so often, do a simple search of your name on online platforms to see what's there. You can even ask your friends in case you've been blocked. Again, report and block any content that may be fake.
If you'd like more information, the eSaftey Commissioner website has a ton of information about being safe online.
If you or someone you know is at risk or immediate harm, call 000. If you are having thoughts about self-harm or suicide, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.
Patchin, J. (2009). Impersonation – a serious form of cyberbullying. https://cyberbullying.org/impersonation-a-serious-form-of-cyberbullying
Matteson, S. (2019). Dealing with an online impersonator. https://www.techrepublic.com/article/10-tips-for-dealing-with-an-online-impersonator/