Michaela Di Cesare is used to showing her face in public – she’s an actor and a playwright and often posts photos of herself on Facebook to publicize productions. But last weekend, she got a message out of the blue from someone in the Czech Republic.
“She sent a link to the profile. And I clicked on it and looked at the page and lo and behold, there was my face, but it wasn’t me,” she said
Di Cesare says whoever was using her photo on Facebook under the name of Michaela Wolfova had about 800 friends, mostly men.
“It was really creepy. It was just so bizarre,” she said.
Di Cesare contacted Facebook and says they replied saying Wolfova’s profile doesn’t violate its community standards.
So Di Cesare’s friends also started demanding that the person claiming to be Michaela Wolfova remove her photo. A day later, Facebook closed the page.
Ethical hacker Terry Cutler says identity theft on Facebook is not unheard of.
“It could happen a lot more often than we think. Because these photos are public we no longer have control over [them],” he explained.
Cutler says Di Cesare did the right thing to involve her friends because the more complaints Facebook gets, the more they pay attention.
Di Cesare still doesn’t know if Michaela Wolfova even exists. She said at first, the incident left her wanting to tighten her privacy settings, but that would be impractical, given her profession. So she’ll continue posting publicly, but with a new concern.
“It just makes me wonder if other of my photos be out there on other platforms being used in different ways,” she said.
Two ways you can ensure your photos aren’t being hijacked by someone else:
- Go to your photos on you Facebook page. In another tab, open up Google Images. Drag and drop your photo into Google and it will search for any other places where the photo is being use.
- Set up a Google Alert on yourself, which will notify you when Google finds a new search result on your name.
I’m a government cleared cybersecurity expert (a Certified Ethical Hacker), and the Vice-President of Cyber at SIRCO, an investigations and protections firm in Montréal, Canada.
I’m also a frequent contributor to National & Global media reportage about cyber-crime, spying, security failures, internet scams, and the real social network dangers that families and individuals face every day.