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BROTHEN: The consequences of playing fast and loose with social media

July 04, 2014 - 7:55 AM

If you’re in the hashtag generation like me, you probably take technology for granted.

This week I phoned the Vernon RCMP to ask for a media release.

“Sure,” the lady said. "I’ll fax it to you.”

A fax? Maybe all the carrier pigeons were busy.

I wish I was kidding, but clearly not everyone is so up-to-date on the latest forms of technology. Some are still warming up to social media; others are still working their way up to email.

I tried not to smile in court this week as lawyers and a judge familiarized themselves with ‘Facebook,’ the mechanics of ‘friend requests’ and how profiles are made as they considered a case of catfishing, though no, they didn’t call it that.

George Herbert Douglas created a fake social media profile under the name Chrissy Last – which he used to stalk and torment his ex-girlfriends with an online smear campaign. Pure catfish.

His three exes weren’t the only victims. Douglas harvested his own cousin’s Facebook profile for pictures to adopt as his own. The pictures you saw in local media are hers and she’s rightfully pissed off about it.

But this case had me thinking perhaps some of us who have embraced social media are too comfortable with it.

For a fake person—and a poorly constructed one at that—Last did pretty well for herself. More than four hundred of you accepted her as a friend probably only because he used his attractive cousin’s photo.

This not only helped boost the false notion she was real, it gave Douglas ample opportunity to create more fake profiles if he wished. Each online friend was another window Douglas could peer into and–if he wanted to—absorb their memories for his next profile.

Four hundred people didn’t ask themselves (or Last for that matter) who she was before adding a harassing criminal to check out their most personal lives online. His reasons for conjuring last were rather personal, but it needn't have been. Identity theft and fraud would be too easy for someone so motivated. That friend requester could be a stalker looking for something else.

Next time you get a friend request, ask yourself this. If you were at a club and this person asked for your phone number or your address, would you give it? Chances are you’ve got a whole lot more than that on your Facebook profile.

To contact a reporter for this story, email, or call 250-319-7494. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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