No, ‘fake profiles’ are not illegal.

A lot of reporting today about ‘fake profiles’ being criminalised. At least that’s what you’ll understand if you just look at the headlines popping up on news sites.

The Next Web
The BBC

This kind of slant typifies the problem with tech reporting I see whenever something remotely newsworthy comes up. It’s incredibly frustrating to see and it does have an impact.

Happily journalists’ pseudonymous profiles will not lead to prosecutions

Regarding this specific story, there are several errors common to the reporting:

  1. There’s nothing new in the law. The CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) has issued guidance for police officers to follow when investigating harassment.
  2. Being a ‘troll’ is not illegal.
  3. ‘Harassment’ has been illegal for quite some time.
  4. Creating fake profiles is not harassment — e.g. creating a comedy profile to take the mickey out of Donald Trump is different to creating a profile to slur with impunity an ex-partner you’ve been stalking for three years.

Take it easy with the reporting guys.

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