The Legal Aftermath of Catfishing: Your Rights in the Digital Age

Many of us spend hours every day building relationships and communicating with our online or long-distance friends. Social media has helped people connect all around the world—but what happens when those people are frauds? Worse, what can you do if someone else is using your likeness or your child’s likeness?

Image explaining the definition of catfishing - 3ddd233
Incidences of catfishing are on the rise all over the world.

As shows and internet phenomena focus more and more on catfishing and how easy it is to lie about your identity on social media, it’s important to understand your rights when it’s your face on the screen. The Dark Side of Social Media Romance gives readers a look at the future of lawsuits in a world where what others see on the internet can hurt us.

Online Impersonation Laws 

Your personal identity, especially your likeness, is important to you—after all, you can change your name, but your voice and appearance aren’t so easy to alter. Because of this, using someone else’s likeness, name, or identity to harass, intimidate, or harm is illegal.

The article points out a few ways this is covered under the law, and it’s not always explicitly catfishing. For example, cyberbullying and doxxing—a practice where a harasser posts the victim’s personal information online—are both illegal because it involves the use of someone’s personal information to hurt them.

Sharing intimate or sexual photos of another person without their consent falls under this umbrella, and the paper connects them all to a wider concept: defamation. In all these cases, the victim’s identity is being used to cause them harm and ruin their reputation.

Holding Internet Users Accountable

The article also offers some thoughts on how to deal with this growing problem in the courtroom. For example, many states haven’t caught up to catfishing and online impersonation. What can the average person do?

If someone is using your likeness, they may be committing criminal offenses, which means you may be able to gather evidence of the abuse and report it to the right authorities.

Another important note, though, is the lack of accountability for social media networks. Sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter do have privacy rules and guidelines to protect users from this abuse. However, many people have reported abuse without these sites taking action, and unfortunately, they may not be liable in many cases for abuse facilitated by their website.

Keeping Up with Technological Advances

While the author points out that there are several gray areas and laws that could affect your lawsuit, Derzakarian also admits that technology is simply quicker to change that legal standards. That means that not every state has the broad legal coverage that California offers. While a South Carolina personal injury lawyer can help you seek compensation, the laws may not be so clear and helpful for your claim.

This article, however, does address important legal changes that should be addressed today. As the way we interact online changes, and as the nature of bullying and harassment change to fit the medium, our laws should change to reflect those concerns.


Interesting related article: “What is Social Media?