One hears a lot about identity theft these days and the need to protect personal online information, but what one doesn't hear about that much is the use of photographs of real people to represent other people who are using the Internet to promote or sell either themselves or saleable items (sometimes through use of a fictitious online persona).
This type of photo squatting is not as simple and straightforward as commandeering the image of a famous person from the past or a current politician/celebrity as an avatar accompanying online comments made using a pen name; this is more a stated claim involving the downloading and re-naming of an existing jpg file and then uploading it again to the Internet to represent a second person/fictitious persona without the knowledge or permission of the first person in the original photograph.
These 'fake' photographs often turn up on auction and dating sites. Sometimes the fakes appear to involve activity bordering on the unlawful, sometimes they appear to simply be misrepresentation of the second person's actual physical appearance - a type of wishful thinking.
What is obvious is that the people who have had their photographs hijacked in this way rarely have any idea that their faces are out there in cyberspace often inserted in biographies which give them street addresses, phone numbers, emails, jobs, partners and/or families that bear no relationship to their own lives.
Do you know where those happy snaps you may have posted on your website or social networking page have migrated to?
Graphic from Silhouette Clip Art