I Am Not Melissa Dugan

impersonation-me

impersonation-me Imagine my surprise this weekend when I received an email and Facebook message from an Internet friend, Amy Akins, telling (and showing) me how someone on Facebook was using my face. Creepy, to be sure. But things could be much worse. She (or he or it, as this could well be a bot account) could be using my name. Could be trying to pretend to be me in more than just image.

At least all these people thought it was a great photo. You know, if they’re real. Still, this is the photo I’ve used for my social media profiles since late 2010. My friend noticed it because it’s pretty immediately recognizable as me. Not cool. So I reported the profile of Melissa Dugan as impersonation to Facebook. I told a group of friends, many of whom also reported it to Facebook.

 

I got on with my life, checked in now and again to see if anything had happened yet, and spent time with my family. Sunday morning, I checked in again. The profile was still up. No change. I posted an update on my Facebook profile, including the screenshot above, and asked folks to report the profile for impersonation, if they were willing. Dozens did, and for that I’m quite grateful.

By day’s end, however, still nothing had happened. At this point, several of my more intrepid friends had sent friend requests to Melissa Dugan to see what they could find out from the inside, if you will. She accepted several requests and my friends started investigating.

 

all_my_pics

Yes, those are all photos of me. The first and fourth are stills from videos I posted on my profile at some point or another. The second and third were/are profile pictures of mine.

Many other photos from her profile were along the lines of this:

dugangun

That was one of the tamer ones.

Then, I did the Graph Search (somehow, I forgot to screenshot it; ah, well). I couldn’t dig up much, as Dugan’s privacy permissions must have been pretty tight, but almost all the photos she had commented on were from Subway (the sandwich shop). Nothing against Subway, but I have never once commented on their page. OK, it might have something to do with the fact that I prefer Blimpie’s.

The only other photo she’d commented on publicly was one that included a yellow duckling calling black ducklings the N word. Classy. I believe her comment was “lmao.”

That’s when I started to get really pissed off.

We are, to a degree, our avatars. When I’m on Twitter, I rely on my friends not changing their photos and catching their faces (or cats or drawings or whatever) as they fly by. On Facebook, a quick glance at comments tells me who’s there when I might not have time to sit and read everything; I still know who’s around.

Look, you can say pretty much anything you want in this country. That’s why the United States is pretty freakin’ great, despite all its faults. And you’re entitled to *think* whatever you want. Be racist. Declare your love for weaponry of all kinds. Eat at Subway. Go for it! You’re not affecting me.

But you are affecting me when you use my face.

Right now, I can’t see Melissa Dugan’s profile on Facebook. The link is dead. But all my friends – those accepted as mutuals and not – still can. I do find it rather … bemusing … that a social media platform doesn’t really have staff on weekends to deal with things like this. What if the person had been using my name? What if the person had been wreaking havoc? Would I still have to have waited until Monday? That’s sure what it felt like.

It’s a pretty cut-and-dried case. I’ve had this photo for years, and lots of people have met me and can confirm it’s me. In fact, it was shot by a professional photographer at the Social Media Club booth at the BlogWorld Expo held at the Mandalay Bay in 2010. So it’s pretty easy to determine it’s me. This fake profile only appeared last summer.

Does this person know me? Is it a pointed “attack” on me? I tend not to think so, as this person made no attempt to make herself known to me. Hasn’t used my name.

But she’s used my face, and it’s the only one I’ve got.

UPDATE, 5:18 p.m. EST, Jan. 28: Facebook removed my photos from her profile! Thank you all so much for your support.

This was the note Facebook sent me:

Thank you for your report. The timeline you reported violates our community standard on identity and privacy, so we removed it. We let Melissa Dugan know that his timeline has been removed, but not who reported it (Facebook never discloses who submits a report).

Note “his timeline”. I wonder if that’s a function of the automated message from Facebook, or an indication of who created the account.

new-dugan

 

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77 comments
CarlyWood
CarlyWood

Quick tip for anybody concerned or curious about who might be using their profile photos online... use Google's fairly recent "Search By Image" function and upload a few profile pictures for a quick scan of the net!

http://www.google.com/insidesearch/features/images/searchbyimage.html

If anything, you might just find a few old comments you made on blogs that might make you giggle!!

Carly :)

PattieSimone
PattieSimone

Un-freakin' believable - and so weird! So sorry it took fb so long to do something AND respond - something Marky Mark should take care of pronto.

albert71292
albert71292

Happy to hear the profile was removed! :-)

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin

This is a weird one - why use your pic???

RColeman
RColeman

It appears Facebook did more than just removed the photos.  It seems the account is gone as well.

GinaCarr
GinaCarr

Argh!  Glad it is resolved.  

DonnaPapacosta
DonnaPapacosta

I tried to report it, after being tipped off by a mutual friend, but FB wouldn't let me, since you and I are not FB friends. I hope this gets resolved. Not cool at all.

MikkiManuelMcCoy
MikkiManuelMcCoy

I reported the profile. I just marked it as impersonating someone else or something along those lines. It took longer than I thought for Facebook to start going downhill.

RizzoTees
RizzoTees

I reported it as a fake account

ChrystalReed
ChrystalReed

I reported the page as well. When I was trying to report her as an impersonator, it said I couldn't because you and I aren't friends. So I reported it as a fake profile. I had this happen to me back when we all used myspace. It's awful and hopefully they'll get this resolved soon!

stegiegirl
stegiegirl

I'm not going to friend her just to see her posts, but the thought occurred to me that she or he could possibly be a  troll and is using this account with your face on it as a cover. Just thinking out loud.


DanielleSmithTV1
DanielleSmithTV1

Amy~  I can't believe the profile is still up.... I found her in seconds.  Hate that you are having to deal with this.  Clearly you know how I feel about theft of photos, and while I agree with you it would certainly be damaging to have your entire identity stolen, I ALSO think this is a severe problem and hope Facebook rectifies it soon.

dfloresbx
dfloresbx

Reported. Can't believe it is taking FB this long.

albert71292
albert71292

Reminds me of the time someone made a fake account claiming to be me, then they started contacting my friends, telling them I was moving accounts, and shutting this one down. Luckily a friend thought something was suspicious, and asked me about it, so I was able to stop it before more damage was done!

I've posted a link to this on my Facebook page, so others can be on the lookout in case something like this happens to them.

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin

I found the profile but couldn't report it because you and I are not friends - that's odd too I think.

Facebook's inconsistency is maddening.  There was a group page using my business logo in misogynist, hateful pictures and cartoons - I reported it repeatedly to no avail.  And I mean absolutely disgusting stuff - nothing tame.  A friend of mine reported someone for racist language and that person was booted off  permanently.

KellyKim
KellyKim

I hope this gets resolved quickly. Let us know if we can help! (I shared this post already). This is identity theft, make no mistake about it, and should be treated as  such. 

LetitiaWright
LetitiaWright

This is very bad on Facebook's part to not do something. I literally make money with my face and found someone on Meet up that was using the movie poster I was in as the picture of her meetup group. I complained and showed them links to the website and the amazon sales page and it was done in less than 48 hours,no questions asked. For Facebook to not respond is really crazy. I can't tell if it's random or not but why bother using someone else's photo? I dont understand what the point of that is. 

David J Rubin
David J Rubin

Reported it, Amy- and I've known Amy for almost 30 years- and I can confirm that photo is DEFINITELY AMY!!! I even gave feedback as to which pic she should use from a handful that were taken!! If this continues, Walter Bishop will have to get involved, and we KNOW that won't be good...

Tinu
Tinu

This is part of the big problem I have with social companies not having phone numbers. Fine, Facebook/Google, your service is free but I pay with my data, and you're selling access to me over and over. And I get why there isn't a posted phone number to call (Amazon & Paypal take calls though, so I don't think it's a question of scale, it's one of cost. At least where someone has failed to enter costs associated with lost business and unhappy clients.)

If there was a way certain escalated cases could get callbacks, or even help via chat, some of these issues could be solved faster.

Sorry to hear this still isn't resolved Amy.

RColeman
RColeman

It sounds like it's time to send a "cease and desist" letter to Facebook corporate headquarters via Registered Mail.  Include copies of all requests to Facebook online regarding the false profile.  Add in the letter that if the profile infringement is not acted on, another letter will be sent on your attorney's letterhead.  Follow through if no action is taken.

Lisa Frame
Lisa Frame

Did a search as well and reported. 

DreamSpunFiber
DreamSpunFiber

Boosted the signal on FB and Google Plus, and reported to FB.

wordwhacker
wordwhacker

I agree that I don't think it's personal. It's too random. But that it is so random is part of what makes it extra creepy. I think Subway might be interested that such a person is endorsing them.

MattHirschfelt
MattHirschfelt

I'm shocked that Facebook hasn't taken the profile down yet. I've reported several profiles which have used my photos to impersonate me and they have all been resolved within 24 hours. My impersonator was using the profiles with my pictures to join and support racist, homophobic, and other highly controversial groups at the time I found out. He was additionally trying to gain access to admin privileges in games that my company runs by claiming to be me.

SashaElizabethWolff
SashaElizabethWolff

Amy! I have this very thing going on right now! I had a bunch of my Facebook friends (and myself) report her, but Facebook has done nothing! It is very very frustrating and I feel a bit violated! 

AmandaMagee
AmandaMagee

That is so odd. I hope they clear this up soon. The only upshot is that I feel like those of us who do interact with you know the sorts of things you are drawn to and the beliefs that you hold. That being said, this is still an incredible violation.

jodiontheweb
jodiontheweb

I forwarded this to our Facebook reps. 

ScottMonty
ScottMonty

I'd be glad to ping some Facebook engineers about this for you Amy.

DanMachold
DanMachold

Did a search on the name and found the profile.  I'll add a report.

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