It happens (and if you are reading this post, it has either happened to you or someone you know): someone has stolen your social media identity by grabbing your photo, using your name and copying your bio word-for-word and that person is out there parading around pretending to be you, following your followers and destroying your reputation in the name of spam (or smarm).
It doesn’t matter. All that matters to you is getting your face, your online persona, your information off of THEIR profile…NOW!
What to Do If Someone Steals Your Social Media Identity
#1: Don’t Engage — Whatever you do, don’t confront them. If it is for nasty reasons, you don’t want to provoke further nastiness on their part. Best to work on quietly having their profile shut down by the social media platform instead of picking a fight with someone who you already know is not willing to play by the rules.
#2: Ask for Help — Enlist the support of your friends in getting their profile flagged (behind-the-scenes, of course). Often social media platforms, like Twitter, require a critical mass of abuse reports before they will shut an account down.
#3: Review the Policy — Check the official impersonation policy on the particular platform to see what you need to do to alert them to the identity theft. Facebook, for example, requires you report the timeline of the offending impersonator and follow the steps; whereas, Twitter asks you to fill out a form and fax a copy of your government issued ID.
#4: Take Screen Caps — Before reporting or alerting anyone of anything, document the situation by taking screen caps. This may become useful later as impersonators try to hide by blocking the person they are attempting to impersonate.
#5: Be Vigilant — Stick with it until the issue is resolved, remembering to document each step along the way so you have a paper trail to show if it is needed. This is YOUR identity we’re talking about here — defend it!
Links for Reporting a Social Media Impersonator:
On Facebook — Log out of your Facebook account, report via the link, follow the steps, including reporting the timeline.
On Twitter — Fill out the form, follow the steps, and provide a copy of your government issued ID.
On Instagram — Report via the link, follow the steps, and provide a copy of your government issued ID.
On Google+ — Report via the link, follow the steps, and either provide a copy of your government issued ID or fill out a form if you are using a name other than your legal name.