(Originally published 15/10/07)
Ok, so we’re all familiar with the concept of identity theft, right? Someone rummages around in your bins and nabs your bank statements, or hacks into your computer because you’re fool enough not to have adequate protection (come ON, in this day and age?). And then you ring your bank and it all gets sorted out (albeit eventually). Fine. But what happens when someone steals your face and thoughts? And I’m not talking about aliens.
I received a message today from a friend on Facebook, telling me to have a look at this link, which I duly did, and quite frankly couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The link had taken me to a Myspace profile of a girl named ‘Lizzy-O’ who had the same profile background that I’d had a while ago. No big deal, I thought. Then I heard the familiar opening tinkle of the song I had on my profile, and then the graphics loaded and staring back at me was….well, me.
I sat there dumbfounded, waiting for the ol’ cogs to turn and process what was going on. This person, ‘Lizzy-O’ (if that is her real name) had stolen my blurbs, my list of favourite bands, my arty and probably pretentious ‘about me’ section, and most importantly my photos. All my photos. Everything. The only differences were that she’d changed the name, where she was from (Texas, of all places) and had written a very favourable blog about Timbaland. And she’d changed the captions of my photos. So the one of me running about in the snow like an excitable spaniel is tagged with ‘Ice queen, but in a good way! Lolz!’ and in another one where I’m laughing, she’s tagged it with ‘OMG! Laughing again!’
Timbaland? Lolz? OMG? WTF? Somebody using my image is bad enough but to affiliate it with an arrogant hip hop producer and disrespect for the English language is something else. Irate, I banged out an angry email to Myspace. ‘What the hell?’ ‘How could you let this happen?’ ‘I demand you shut that account immediately’ etc etc. But then I sat back and reconsidered this. I voluntarily put my image on the internet and I was fool enough to allow public access to my profile. All Myspace did was provide a vehicle for me to do so. Yes, I feel incredibly unsettled by this and it’s upsetting to think that someone out there (male or female) is using my image to masquerade behind, and I hope that Myspace do delete the account, but how shocking is it really? Not that much.
So I bring you this message. Be careful where you stick your mug, because god only knows where mine is now.