How Facebook Plans to Help Protect You from Identity Theft

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( — July 13, 2016) — Facebook recently unraveled new technology designed to report and prevent identity theft of its users. In the past, users had the ability to directly report profiles for impersonating them through the “Report” feature located on each profile page next to the cover photo and profile picture. The feature was designed for a variety of reasons, including for the reporting of explicit and illegal photos, impersonation, and other imagery meant to humiliate or ‘hijack’ an individual’s identity. Identity theft, revenge porn, and efforts to publicly slander women (and men) in especially strict countries such as Syria, Bangladesh (India), China, Iran, and unsurprisingly North Korea have led to the complete banning of Facebook in some parts of the world.

However, Facebook has now announced a new feature that can warn you when someone is impersonating you on their website.

How Does Facebook’s New Identity Crime-Prevention System Work?

As it stands, Facebook is relying heavily on a “name recognition” feature that cross-analyses new account creation and alerts current users about the potential “security-breach”. Users are then requested to confirm whether or not it was them that originally created the account, and if not, the perpetrator will have their account disabled and their IP address recorded. Moving forward, Facebook intends to evolve and apply a photographic-facial recognition solution to recognize duplicate accounts being created, countering these behaviors internally in a similar manner.

What Is the Legal Basis of These Facebook Changes?

Cyberbullying and harassment laws exist globally, and are becoming a very serious, growing problem. Many countries have established and continue to develop new anti-bullying, harassment, and public slander laws to deter these behaviors online. Since this system is new, the name and image-based strategy Facebook is currently applying is automated, but manual reports and reviews are viewed individually and handled by real, live Facebook staff.

There are several US law-related charges that can be applied to any individual found (a) harassing, (b) stalking, (c) bullying, or (d) hacking an individual’s account for the purpose of identity theft. Harassment under US law has a general definition, and anything from annoying to tormenting, alarming or terrorizing another individual on Facebook could potentially constitute as a legal violation. Documentation, records, and thoroughly providing evidence to demonstrate any of these offenses is required to successfully pursue charges against a perpetrator.

The Consequences of Identity Theft and Facebook Harassment

Reporting issues and demonstrating to both authorities and Facebook instances of bullying or stalking, if successful, can lead to a restraining order, criminal penalties, and even probation for offenders if found guilty. Each state has its own sets of laws regarding online harassment, bullying, and identity theft. To learn more about cyber-stalking laws specific to your state of residence click here. Legal authorities across the United States are cracking down more and more on online stalking, harassment, and other criminal mischievous activities online. These are often serious threats to law enforcement and the general public, as often those guilty of such offenses as identity theft are often involved with terroristic activities or even money laundering.