How three online reputations were ruined through social networking

Information-hungry users of today’s technology demand not only instant access but also instant gratification. The desire to get things done quickly has unfortunately spread into another realm where people’s identifications are stolen and reputations are destroyed. We now carry cell phones that, like mini computers, store some of our most important personal data.

How do we guard our most sensitive information in this fast-paced world? What could happen when you inadvertently leave your cell phone in a restaurant? Or accidentally email someone the wrong document?

This article focuses on how three online reputations were ruined by social networking.

Stolen identity leads to impersonation on Facebook.

When Kerry Harvey's identity was stolen via Facebook, the damage went far beyond her online reputation. Web hijackers stole her identity and created an illegitimate Facebook page, naming her a prostitute.

The 23-year-old sales executive started receiving inappropriate pictures and unwanted calls on her cell phone. She soon received a friend request from an unknown Facebook user whose profile displayed her photograph, date of birth, full name, phone number and her apparent career — prostitution.

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The Aftermath

After her identity had been stolen, Harvey’s confidence and self-esteem were shattered. Given how much attention the fraudulent account attracted, she found it harder to go out in public and interact with other people. She feared that people would think that she was actually a prostitute. The account was deleted before anyone could identify the perpetrator, leaving no clues for Facebook or police to take any action. In addition, the police said doing the research would be too costly.

Since the event happened, Harvey has pushed for better Web reputation management and privacy control systems. This online abuse went beyond the computer screen and into her real life, damaging her dignity and confidence.

Your sensitive information is vulnerable in an online world, where creditors, employers, businesses and others can gain access to it. Practice your right to privacy, and make sure all your information is in the right hands. 

South Carolina police officer left jobless after posting “Tits n Tats” photo on Facebook.

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Police officers have a great amount of responsibility on and off the clock. They, like everyone else who wants to protect their career and manage their reputation, have to be careful of the types of photos they take.

A Moncks Corner police officer was relieved of his job after taking a photo of four women wearing bikinis. The photo revealed the women posing on his police cruiser during the “Tits n Tats” carwash charity event hosted by Rockstar Tattoo Studio. The photo surfaced on Facebook, embarrassing the police department and the town.

A Berkeley County sheriff’s deputy was at the same carwash. She was also featured in one of the photos; however, she was not disciplined for participating. The sheriff’s office stated that she was involved as a private citizen and did not break any laws.

Twitter fraudster acts as pop movie star.

Even movie star Jonah Hill (“Superbad” and “Get Him to the Greek”) experienced trouble in his career after an impersonator created a Twitter account using his name.

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“I have never been on the website Twitter, nor will I ever be on the website Twitter,” Hill said in an interview on the “Late Show with David Letterman.” “But there is someone who impersonates me on Twitter and has like a hundred thousand followers, and it’s not me!”

Hill explained the feud between his impersonator and actor-director Jon Favreau (“Iron Man” and “Iron Man 2”). “This kid has been talking trash to Jon Favreau . . . who I want to work with by the way,” he says as he chuckles. “I had to email him and say it’s not me.” The mix-up even caught the attention of many of Hill’s friends, who questioned his behavior. Who would’ve thought that something like this could’ve happened to one of today’s biggest movie stars?

We’ve seen how three online reputations were ruined with social networking gone haywire, having an enormous impact on the lives and careers of the people involved. If it could happen to these three, it can happen to anyone.

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