This morning I heard that a mutual colleague and friend has had their name and likeness "borrowed" by someone for a twitter account and is posting items as "the fake - insert my friends name here -
Flattering as it may be that someone would choose to make themselves a "fake me" I find the whole concept creepy and dangerous. The fact that someone is posting things using my identity (with name and photo) to unwitting readers who do not know that it's not really me saying whatever was tweeted is not a happy thought at all.
Humorously, the whole thing reminds me of the great New Yorker cartoon "On the Internet Nobody knows you're a dog." Seriously, there is a very important lesson that I personally try to recall when I sign up for social things. I like to participate in social networks (and do) but I keep in mind that identity is more than digital credentials and that I tend to share less with people who's identity is more obscure to me. I've been working with people and have developed relationships - working and personal - via the Internet for over 20 years now and will continue to do so. But, as in face to face reality, I try to be discerning on who gets what access to my life and information.
This isn't a new problem per se, there have been famous cases of identity fraud online; consider the case of the cyber bullying mom on MySpace. However this is somewhat different. Here someone is saying they are a "fake" real person. It's like cyber-squatting only with a person's identity on a popular social network. It's hard to tell if "the fake" is trying to be malicious or not, it mostly seems like funny stuff. Despite that, things have been posted that my friend would never say and could compromise their reputation. It's new territory in socialization and how the social network providers will respond to these types of things. I'll keep you posted if I find out more or how this might resolve.