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Are you legally allowed to create fake social media profiles?

Like it or not social media has become an integral part of our lives.

What happens if a person wants to create a fake social media profile, or a profile not in their name, so that they can maintain privacy while still being able to use social media?

While there is no law in Canada expressly forbidding a person from creating a fake media account, nevertheless a person could run into a lot of problems in doing so.

What could be some of the repercussions of creating a fake account?

Be aware that you cannot create a fake account under someone else’s name, because that may well be considered identity theft.

Identity theft is a serious offence listed in the Criminal Code of Canada. If you use any kind of information that applies to another person including: a name, address, date of birth, written signature, electronic signature, digital signature, and user name in a profile you create, you could be in trouble.

The law states that: “Everyone commits an offence who transmits, makes available, distributes, sells or offers for sale another person’s identity information, or has it in their possession for any of those purposes, knowing that or being reckless as to whether the information will be used to commit an indictable offence that includes fraud, deceit or falsehood as an element of the offence.” There are about 10 other criminal offences a person can be charged as part of this provision.

If someone creates a false social media account in order to embarrass or humiliate a person by posting photos or videos of a sexual nature without their consent, this is considered a sexual offence under criminal law and is punishable through imprisonment.

A person can also be sued under privacy law in civil court.

New privacy tort

There is a new tort of "public disclosure of embarrassing private facts" created by the Ontario courts. This new torts allows people to sue for monetary damages, where they have been embarrassed to a point its offensive and against the public good.

The new tort arose out of a revenge porn case in which an ex-boyfriend posted a sexual video his ex-girlfriend made for only him on a porn site.  The judge found that the damages to her were “significant and long-lasting” and awarded her $100,000.

On September 16, 2016, the award was set aside as the original award was made as part of a default judgement. The ex-boyfriend appealed the decision, and the court decided that the issue was of such importance that it should be heard at a trial where the ex-boyfriend would have a chance to make arguments on his behalf. The ex-girlfriend’s appeal of this decision was dismissed on January 9, 2017. The case will go to trial.

It is currently unclear what precedential value the original decision has, though its reasoning may well be recognized in the retrial of the original case or in another case. Until then, the law in this new tort is unclear.

If you have created a fake profile and are facing criminal charges over it consult a criminal lawyer as soon as possible.

Read more:

Criminal Code of Canada Identity Theft

Online fraud: Social Network