Users with fake Facebook or Twitter accounts may face criminal charges in England and Wales


Trolls setting up fake social media accounts in England and Wales to abuse others online could face charges under new guidelines being proposed by the Crown Prosecution Service.

The new advice being drawn up for prosecutors means people who set up fake profiles to damage or embarrass another person could be committing offences such as grossly offensive communication or harassment, the CPS said in a statement.

“Offenders can mistakenly think that by using false online profiles and creating websites under a false name their offences are untraceable,” says Alison Saunders, director of public prosecutions. “Thankfully this is not the case and an online footprint will be left by the offender.”

The guidelines also advise prosecutors about revenge porn and other controlling or coercive behaviour on social media.

“Worryingly, we have seen an increase in the use of cyber-enabled crime in cases related to violence against women and girls,” Saunders said.

Cases like the ones they’ve outlined have been prosecuted under various other pieces of legislation, such as the Communications Act 2003 and the Malicious Communications Act 1988. But the CPS hopes the new changes will give clear and appropriate advice to prosecutors so that offenders are brought to justice.

Imposter or fake accounts are not allowed on Facebook. If someone has created an account purporting to be you, the social network will investigate the activity once the activity is reported.

Impersonating someone else is also a violation of Twitter’s rules. The company says that accounts portraying others in a confusing or deceptive manner can be permanently suspended under its impersonation policy, though users are allowed to create parody, commentary or fan accounts, which fall under a separate policy.

The CPS is holding a six-week consultation period on the new guidelines.

Quotation from the CPS guidelines:

“The act of setting up a false social networking account or website, or the creation of a false or offensive profile or alias could amount to a criminal offence, depending on the circumstances.”


#1: Cyber bullying and other online harassment does occur and it is not acceptable, but should the government be able to proactively regulate your online presence? Should having a fake Facebook profile be a criminal offense similar to a fake ID?

#2: How should the justice and law system update their operations to keep up with new trends occurring in Social Media?

#3: How does this relate to our right to privacy and where can it go from here? If this is passed in Britain will the US follow suite?

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One thought on “Users with fake Facebook or Twitter accounts may face criminal charges in England and Wales

  1. Though I think this is an excellent, excellent idea, and will do worlds of good for those poor souls out there who are being incessantly and dangerously bullied on social media, I think the U.S. will probably not adopt such a policy because it would be very difficult to enforce and an even tougher law to pass, especially with a growing concern for and awareness of personal rights and freedoms of expression on the Internet. It additionally requires the joint cooperation of most social media sites, and I fear it would maybe encourage someone to establish a site that purposely refuses to conform. Bad people will find a way around the walls.

    I also think that for people who make new “fake” social media pages for the purpose of hiding their identity from others for a GOOD reason (ex: those escaping abusive relationships or family members, or those who have experienced a sex change or transition who don’t have ID corresponding to their new life), their lives can potentially be complicated further by a law like this, and with increasing awareness especially of transgender issues, this could stop a law like this from gaining momentum in the US.

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