In 2006, we learned of Megan Meier who committed bullycide because her MySpace boyfriend “Josh” had turned on her and given her a hard time. After the fact, we learned that “Josh” was really a grown woman named Lori Drew and this was a fake profile. Drew was a neighbor of the Meier family and their daughters had grown up together. It was after this case that we became aware of the problem of fake profiles online. Of course, the problems still exist. However, they exist in another form and that is the celebrity imposter.
Celebrity Imposters & History
The problem of “Celebrity Worship Syndrome” has been a problem for as long as Elizabeth can remember, but has grown increasingly worse over the past decade. Technology has increased this along with paparazzi that are also abusive of these peers. Sadly, this has brought about the celebrity imposter problem that Elizabeth knows has been alive since the early 2000’s. She has seen this behavior in action. This has happened many places online like fan clubs, fan websites and anywhere fans have congregated to discuss their favorite celebrity. Also, in emails, IM’s, pm’s and message boards. Now, this problem has filtered onto social sites like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. There is a psychology she has found behind this and it takes an interesting turn. She has seen with her own two eyes the problems this creates for those who are targeted and how the abuser controls everyone pretending to be that particular celebrity and those “associated” with that person.
Who are these people behind the so-called celebrity?
- Children & Adults who are trying to abuse others through technology.
- Children who are bored and are unsupervised.
- Adults who are unstable or not well psychologically.
- Stalkers and those who creep people out.
- Obsessed fans that cannot handle the celebrity having other fans.
- Someone who is in need of attention & may not know any other way of getting it.
- Predators: yes, Elizabeth has seen this also. Child Predators. On one social site, she saw a message where one “celebrity” was proposing marriage to an underage girl. No joke!
- Extortionists: The person will set up a charity in that particular celebrity’s name. They pretend to be the head of the organization for that person and clueless fans give money blindly thinking they are helping their favorite celebrity. However, it’s not the celebrity doing this but the imposter.
Elizabeth has experience in reading profiles and trying to catch these imposters online. She even did this on a social site until they asked her and her friends to stop. Sadly, the problem still exists on their site. Some sites have wised up and started verifying these accounts. A legitimate account will have a blue checkmark beside the persons name. It is getting harder for these abusers to use this as a way to abuse others.
MySpace formed a Celebrity Channel a couple of years ago. Facebook is allowing fake profiles to linger about on their site without much interest or care in removing them. In their earlier days before they became the empire they are, they would get on top of this and remove them. Now? They couldn’t care less. Oh they have their report tabs on pages but are in no hurry to take them down. Since Facebook will not help in these cases, I will list current pages here on my site. I am not adding personal accounts but like pages from Facebook.
Celebrity Imposters & Cyberbullying
Elizabeth knows you asking what this has to do with cyberbullying? It has a LOT to do with cyberbullying. How?
- They lie, steal, cheat, harass, stalk, verbally abuse and they always go after a particular target in the group of fans.
- They play divide and conquer with the group where each person turns on each other and this person is in the middle. As they are the “celebrity” of course the fans are following this person and turning on each other.
- After getting their target set up, they start talking about getting law enforcement, the FBI and other officials involved. Also, talk of lawsuits. This scares the intended target and all sorts of problems exist.
- Um, they are bullies, bottom line! Its all happening via technology!
Isn’t this already happening with cyberbullying? Aren’t our bullies usually of this caliber? This above is why Elizabeth has classified this as a form of cyberbullying.
At the end of the day, this can also be seen as identity theft. Think about it, when you impersonate a celebrity like this, you are online representing that person. People are referring to you as that particular person. Have the imposters asked the celebrity if they could pretend to be them online? Have they purchased anything in doing this? No, they have taken, without any consent, and in a sense stolen that person identity. Think about it, it is theft.
If you have encountered this or currently dealing with this, please email and lets talk further. For now, Elizabeth believes its time to bring this out and make the public aware of it. firstname.lastname@example.org .
Copyright 2006. Elizabeth Bennett. All Rights Reserved.