It is common knowledge these days that any given online profile on LinkedIn or Facebook might contain false information. It can also be assumed that many online profiles are entirely fake. In fact, in 2014 Facebook reported that about 170 million of its accounts are fake.1 While this number may only make up somewhere between 5 and 11 percent of Facebook users, the problem is not just that they exist—its what they are used for.
Many fake online accounts are used for malicious purposes, such as trolling, identity theft, or cyber bullying. While criminal laws address some of these issues once their criminal use becomes apparent, the actual creation of a fake profile is not a crime.
Recently, though, England has begun an effort to curb the creation of fake online profiles. As part of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act of 2015, British prosecutors are now being advised on how to criminally charge individuals who make fake online profiles with information that could damage a person’s reputation.2