Imbedded within these terms and policies are several common elements that relate to impersonation and the treatment of imitators. Often, these are listed as things that a user is permitted to do and not do. “Shall not” language is commonly used in these lists (perhaps modeled off the Ten Commandments). Here are a few examples:
THOU SHALT NOT (as per terms and policies of various social media sites):
- provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission [excerpt from Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities]
- post content or take any action on Facebook that infringes or violates someone else’s rights or otherwise violates the law [excerpt from Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities]
- upload, download, post, submit or otherwise distribute or facilitate distribution of any Content on or through the Service, including without limitation any User Submission, that:
- infringes any patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright, right of publicity or other right of any other person or entity or violates any law or contractual duty;
- you know is false, misleading, untruthful or inaccurate;
These are short, illustrative excerpts from the Terms and Policies currently posted on the Facebook and Foursquare sites. The Terms and Policies also include information on how to report imitators. Generally, a valid imitation claim will result in the imitator being removed from the site and possibly forfeiting other privileges and use of the site as well. While Terms and Policies are subject to change, discouraging imitation will likely remain standard protocol. Social media sites have a vested interest in discouraging imitators on their sites, because, this keeps their sites user friendly for original celebrity users.
BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.