What are fake profiles?

Published: 15 November 2017

Creating a fake profile means registering with a name other than one’s own by misusing someone else’s identity or using a fictitious person’s identity. Such a fictitious identity may be a means of online grooming as its made-up characteristics may make it easier to gain the confidence of unsuspecting victims and disguise the actual identity of the perpetrator. Currently up to 150 million fake profiles capable of being misused exist on the internet. Major operators are actively involved in the fight against this phenomenon.

A profile or account is fake if it is not used to represent one’s true identity, but rather refers to a fictitious person or celebrity. When, for example, you try to look up a famous singer or actor on a social media site, it is apparent that there are several profiles that look like at first sight that they are associated with the person you are looking for and it is hard to decide which is actually authentic.

Those who register profiles with the name of existing persons in social media may be faced with serious legal consequences as they are misusing the identity of another person, violating his/her personality rights. Under civil law, this may mean the violation of the rights to honour and good reputation and the misuse of the person’s likeness. The perpetrator may be prohibited from further violation and required to pay damages for violation. Criminal sanctions may also be applied if a fake profile was used to commit an offence, e.g. breach of personal information.

When fake profiles are used as means of grooming

Creators of fake profiles for fictitious persons often establish a virtual identity for themselves with the purpose of online grooming. Fake profiles established for online grooming purposes may be used by the creators to commit harassment, breach their victims’ personal information and even commit the crime of child pornography by coaxing children into providing images/videos of a sexual nature.


Facebook’s policy prohibits the creation of profiles with false information. If you find a fake profile on the site, you can report it at

Or on Instagram at

Reports of such abuses can also be reported on Tumblr, Twitter and SnapChat: