Arment Dietrich

MySpace Identity Theft

By: Arment Dietrich | March 23, 2007 | 
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Every day, it seems, we hear new stories about children and adults vanishing without a trace. Abducted by friends, family, or strangers, many of those who disappear are never to be found again.

In recent months, Shawn Hornbeck, missing for several years, was found, unharmed, south of St. Louis. His high-profile, heartbreaking story is one that provides hope to those working to find their own lost loved ones and, unfortunately, creates a platform for opportunists.  Last month, a St. Louis television station reported that someone, posing as Hornbeck, created a MySpace page about the boy’s life and his desire to reconnect with friends. The motive? To “get girls”.

Since the news report aired, the page was voluntarily removed from MySpace by its creator.  But it’s important to note that the social Web site was not interested in cooperating with authorities by releasing information about the origin of the fake Hornbeck page … at first.

In situations where identify theft is used with new media, should the name of the person creating fake blogs, sites, and profiles be revealed by the hosting company?  We think there are certain circumstances that warrant the release of personal information related to social media.  Unfortunately, in this instance of identity theft, Hornbeck’s family is forced to involve their attorney in getting the information regarding the person posing as the once missing child in hope of pressing charges. Hasn’t his family endured enough already? — Jenna Gruhala

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