A bill introduced last month would impose a $1,000 fine for stealing someone else’s social media identity, whether on Facebook or other sites, and using it to deceive others. This would include using someone else’s photo or likeness to knowingly spout misleading or bogus information in order to harass, defrauding or extract something of value from someone.
The South Carolina bill, H. 3449, was introduced by Rep. John King, a Rock Hill Democrat.
When shown the proposal, Ashley Caldwell, founder & CEO of The Modern Connection, a Charleston-based social media firm, expressed reservations.
“I think this bill has good intentions, but the way it’s worded suggests limiting legitimate professional use for creative and digital agencies,” she said. “There are a lot of gray areas when it comes to the digital space, and I don’t think this bill understands that.”
She said it would help if the standards for improper use were clarified.
What’s more, added Caldwell, most social networks already have user policies that prohibit the use of someone else’s identity.
“While these measures are obviously not fool-proof, I would think that the individual network would have a better opportunity to ban a user than getting the government involved.”
It’s not clear whether King’s bill, which was introduced on Jan. 31, was a reaction the duping of Manti Te’o. The University of Notre Dame football player was tricked into believing in a made-up girlfriend.
Meanwhile, in Georgia, lawmakers are also grappling with technological tricks.
Ga. Rep. Earnest Smith, of Augusta, discovered that someone pasted a photo of his face on the body of nude man, in the wake of the lawmaker’s efforts to penalize such things.
“No one has a right to make fun of anyone,” said Smith, according to Morris News Service.