I made headline news with an anti-vegan barbecue I organized on Facebook. The problem is, it wasn’t me. Disappointingly, the police and the media are disinterested regarding the identity theft of a minor.
As an animal activist, I put myself out there to be the voice for those who have no voice. I accept the criticism and feedback I receive, and I am also appreciative of the support I get. I understand not everyone will support me or my beliefs, however, I never expected someone would create a fake Facebook account that not only misinterprets what I am about, but also makes headline news – as me.
Recently, Cilla Carden made the news when she filed a lawsuit against her meat-cooking neighbors. I woke up one morning to a barrage of news about me – much to my surprise. The news quoted me, but I was unfamiliar with the quotes as I had not spoken to any news outlet. Nevertheless, the media referred to the protest barbecue I allegedly organized, a Facebook event that quickly received over 100,000 RSVPs.
I never expected someone would create a fake Facebook account that not only misinterprets what I am about, but starts to become quoted in the news – as me.
The event page came from a fake account who has been impersonating me for over six months. It has been an account that has constantly belittled and attacked me. It is a page that has taken photographs of me and used them out of context with commentary I have never been associated with. I am 16 years old, I am a minor. Yet, both the police and Facebook have been unwilling or unable to help shut down this page. And, despite making announcements on my legitimate Facebook account, social media users and the media seem to take this fake account seriously. I know we cannot force logical responses from the public on social media, I understand trolling is at its peak.
What disappoints me the most, is the lack of credibility from the news sources (including News.com.au) who quoted the fake account – as me.
Not one journalist that reported my quotes in their story actually checked with me or confirmed that the account is legitimate. Aside from the personal toll these activities have had on me, I worry about the next generation of high-schoolers who, like me, may want to use social media as a platform to voice their passion, opinions, and concerns.
With a rise in deep fake videos, voice fraud, and digital blackmail rife and largely uncontrolled – I believe the onus is on the media and platforms like Facebook to start taking responsibility for the content they claim as truth. Despite multiple attempts to have this fake Facebook account shut down, I have yet to receive a response from Facebook or any indication they are taking it seriously.
Do we really need to see fraudulently organized mass protests and severe identify theft and defamation at this scale before Facebook and the media realize their obligations to the public?