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Many of my friends having been dropping off the social media spectrum lately. Some have gone so far as to deactivate their social media accounts. They all have good reasons, and in some cases, I see them spending their time much more productively without worrying about the constant distraction of online socializing. None of them have received a personal letter begging their return.

In anti-bullying circles, we instruct people to set up as many social networking profiles as possible. The initial response by most people is the fear that by being so open in the digital world makes them a more likely target. This is not true. In fact, by not securing your social media identity, you leave yourself open to the impostor profile.

The impostor profile is where a person impersonates another person on social media. The impostor posts damaging information on the profile page, which can be extremely damaging to the target (in bully-prevention parlance we do not call them “victims”).

Impostor profiles are frequently used in stalking and cyber-bullying cases. Think about how easy it would be for someone to set up a phony social network account using information about you.

Now, think about how difficult it would be to disprove your ownership of that account, especially if you do not already have a legitimate account as proof of your true identity.

Sometimes, even if you have proof of your identity, the confusion could impact your legitimate profile! Damage done.

It would seem that these stories are old news and that no one needs to hear them again; however, recent events have revived the importance of not only maintaining an online presence, but of securing that identity.

It started with the announcement of “Peeple,” which was advertised as a rating application for humans. The outcry against the application did not kill it entirely, but it did raise the awareness of the horrors that can be caused by such an application. Now, there is Social Autopsy.

Social Autopsy is a Kickstarter project that aims to create an online database of the “digital footprint” of those who spread hatred.

I love the idea that is being attempted by the folks at Social Autopsy, that is, to kill negative comments by shining a light on the haters and trolls – identify them in a database that enables the world to see their hatred and their power will be diminished.

The problem that seems to go unaddressed is the impostor profile. While the owners claim that they will review every submission to their site, there is no mention how they will confirm whether the submission is genuine, or a way for the trolls to further assault their targets.

I sent a message to Social Autopsy founder, Candace Owens, asking how they will handle the impostor profile problem, and I sincerely hope that they have a process to make sure that the innocent are not twice victimized. (I do not expect to hear directly from Ms. Owens, but I could not write this in good conscience without extending the effort.)

I applaud anyone who attempts to create a more harmonious internet community, and if the creators of this new platform can definitively solve the impostor problem, then they may actually be on to a good idea.

If you don’t have a social media presence, now is a good time to set one up. If you have abandoned the social media scene, I urge you to re-establish your profile.

You do not have to be an active participant in the babble-fest. However, you should establish your presence in such a way that secures your positive “digital footprint,” so no one else beats you to it.


Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor, and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire, Inc.

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