If you’re being impersonated on Instagram, there might not be a whole lot you can do about it — even if you’re famous.
Fake celebrity accounts have become common on the photo-sharing app. Recently, actor Derek Luke made headlines when it was revealed that a popular Instagram account attributed to him was actually an imposter, The Huffington Post reported. The account, @IAmDerekLuke, has over 78,000 followers.
“My attorney has been on it, so whoever you are, you’re gonna get it real soon,” Luke warned his Instagram impersonator in an interview with Access Hollywood.
While it might seem like a clear violation, HuffPo found that the legality of pretending to be a celebrity on social media is hazy. California’s penal code qualifies online impersonation as a misdemeanour. Imposters can be charged up to $US1,000 or sentenced to up to a year in prison. Other states are not as clear about consequences.
“A fake account that actually pretends to be the real person in order to deceive others likely violates the right of publicity [a person’s right to control the commercial use of their own image] in most states,” Stanford Law School professor Mark Lemley told The Huffington Post. “To be criminal, there would have to be actual fraud or other misbehavior, not just posting pictures.”
Luke told Access Hollywood that the account in question was used to invite people to fake auditions, so in his case, the criminal line may have been crossed. But for the many other celebrities being impersonated via Instagram, like this fake Ariana Grande account with 1 million followers, there might not be anything to do other than report the account to Instagram and wait for the platform to act.
We’ve reached out to Instagram and are awaiting comment.
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