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Disempowering Effects of Social Media

Updated on October 26, 2016

The rise of social media has driven engagement as it opened almost unlimited possibilities allowing to achieve various causes that otherwise may not have been attained. At the same time, information available through social media can have the opposite effect that may be entirely disempowering, especially when it gets out of hand. The number of those affected in this way is on the rise. Online abuse has had unpredictable and dire consequences. Those who fall victim to such abuse find themselves entirely powerless to do anything about. They are not able to turn for help even to authorities. There are few recourses available for those whose accounts have been hacked or who end up being impersonated online.

The rise of online abuse led in many cases to tragic consequences, where many of those affected took their own lives. Online abuse is often more than just abusive comments posted towards others. An impersonation that involves the imitation of one's appearance or manner, assuming the character conducted fraudulently is often engaged to steal someone's identity, and in some cases, identity theft is linked to trafficking through passing someone's photographs. Impersonation can have wide-ranging effects. Those who have been affected feel like their lives have been disrupted or even ruined. Today, identity theft for fraud is the biggest crime that is most difficult to stop.

What Prompts to Impersonate Others?

Those who engage in impersonation may be driven to do this out of spite or for financial gain. There are also those who seek revenge or intend to do harm. It is relatively easy to damage someone's reputation when posting on someone else's behalf.

Impersonation can involve assuming someone's identity to incite crime, such as it was with a man who pretended to be a woman on a dating site, inviting other men to kidnap her. Others were found to impersonate police officers to commit a crime. There have also been many impersonations of soldiers on dating sites, who then tried to convince potential victims to pay their fees so that they are able to go on a date. Many impersonators try to fraudulently obtain money following various natural disasters.

Even though there have often been innocent impersonations such as those of Elvis Presley, hacking into accounts and emails can leave victim powerless. There are many cases on the Internet when a person has been hacked for years, being unable to do anything about it. Such impersonations can also be used for blackmail or other criminal activities.

Impersonating someone allows persons to express views that are not theirs or that they otherwise wouldn't be able to express.

There are many tips available on the Internet about what to do when you find that your account has been hacked. When information is gained for one's individual advantage there are few options available.

Impersonations can also be used in technology, such as for creating fake servers. According to Wired, fake personalities created online enable gathering information or fighting adversaries.

The rise in impersonations prompted Facebook to create tools to notify when a false account is created. There are also laws designed to deal with impersonating others. Many find it difficult to fight these types of activities pursuing official or individual channels.

For many, access to social media has had overwhelming and disempowering effect when it has been abused. Social media provided many yet undiscovered issues, tapping into many difficult and controversial areas.


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