Q&A: Someone is using a photo of my child as their profile picture

Question: Someone is using a photo of my daughter as their Facebook profile picture. I have reported it to Facebook, but Facebook doesn’t want to do anything about it. They replied that there is nothing wrong or inappropriate and don’t want to remove the profile.

What options do I have?

Answer: Facebook and all other social media platforms are full of fake profiles that use other people’s photos, names and identities. It’s stressful to discover that this is happening to you and it can be hugely damaging to your integrity.

When you report a problem to Facebook it feels like you are talking to a large black hole and you are not sure if anyone is listening.

In the past, when several people have reported a false profile Facebook has removed it, so if they are not doing anything about your single complaint you can ask all your friends to report the profile, which might help. To do this you go into the false Facebook profile, and on the right side of the top large cover photo will be three dots, click on them and choose ‘Report’.

Here are two useful links to Facebook:

General help:

What do I do if someone is pretending to be me on Facebook?

Facebook’s policy says that you have to use your real name in your profile, so it sounds odd that it would be okay to use a fake photo. Of course this is a huge operational problem, but as there are so many smart digital solutions out there I can’t see why they don’t have some kind of verification system for real accounts with real profile photos.

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The companies that provide us with our online profiles need to get their act together and provide more open and transparent customer service. From my experience reporting problems only LinkedIn has offered human, friendly customer support.

Three points to remember in the complaints process are: 1) always take screenshots of the false account and save them on your computer; 2) tell all your friends and online connections that you have discovered the fake account; 3) report it to the police.

Legal help is available and can help you track the IP address of the computer that is using your name and account. I’m not a legal expert, but I know that this service is available. Look for a legal firm where you are based.

It’s good to be more cautious with how you share photos of your children online. If you make your photos public potential weirdoes and paedophiles can see them and they will get unnecessary insights into your life.

Very young children can’t have an opinion about which pictures you show of them online, and you have to consider how sharing loads of photos of them online  can affect them in the future.

It’s a good habit to ask children for consent before sharing a photo of them online, and to not share photos of children who are too young to understand what it means to be in photos online. What the ‘right’ age is depends on children’s maturity and experience of the web. You can also have a private Instagram account where only the followers you approve can see your pictures.

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UPDATE 1st August.

I got a comment on Facebook which can help.

‘File a copyright infringement notice.’ That will fit into Facebook categories.


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Email: sofie@sofiesandell.com


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