Why I'm Rethinking My Facebook Author Page
PLUS A WORD OF WARNING TO MY FELLOW AUTHORS.
An update from Lauren Layne:
The original article below was posted on October 3, 2016, describing my horrifying experience of a fraudulent Facebook account using my name/photos as their own, and Facebook's continued refusal to remedy the situation.
On the afternoon of October 4, 2016 I got word from my publisher that the Facebook account using my name/face as their own was deactivated.
I've been getting several inquiries on whether or not the resolution means I'll be returning to Facebook.
I'll keep the page open to direct Facebook-fans to other sites, but I'll no longer be using Facebook in a personal capacity.
While I'm relieved that the issue is resolved, and hugely grateful for the massive (and I do mean massive) outpouring of support that made the resolution possible, my disappointment and distrust of Facebook remains.
Yes, Facebook resolved the issue, but here's what it took:
It took me writing this blog post, which was shared hundred of times, and received nearly 25,000 page views within the first 24 hours.
It took me engaging my battle-ready agent who then rallied attorneys and the powerful resources of my publishing house.
This imposter account was not deactivated because I followed Facebook's "built in" solutions. I followed all of Facebook's instructions to the letter, I filed all of their reports, followed up again and again with each report, and got nowhere.
The main reason the fraudulent Facebook account was deactivated was because I was able to throw the weight of one of the world's biggest publishing houses at the issue. Only after a huge NYC publisher stepped in, did Facebook take action. Only then did I and the dozens of people who who filed reports receive auto-messages from Facebook saying that their report had been reviewed, and the account had been deactivated.
I need to pause here and say that in no way am I undervaluing the efforts of everyone who took the time to report "Layne Ann." It absolutely made this an easier fight. And on a personal level, the quantity and quality of support meant so much that I cried in gratefulness. Trust me, crying's not really my usual jam.
While I'm happy and relieved to get resolution however I can get it, I'm also very cognizant that I had access to resources others don't.
So, Facebook, what about when this happens to someone who doesn't have the reach of my platform? Who doesn't have access to high-powered friends with thousands upon thousands of Twitter followers to help their violation go viral? What about when this happens to someone without a fierce agent's attorney resources? What about when this happens to someone who doesn't have freaking Random House to step in and fight for them?
How do those people get their face back, Facebook?
Again, I'm so, so grateful to have this resolved. I'm breathing easy for the first time in days. But I stand by my assessment below that Facebook isn't doing nearly enough to prevent/resolve identity theft.
If you're coming to this page for the first time, I continue to read on and practice extreme caution over what you share on Facebook.
Thanks again to everyone who's shown support on this. I wrote the below post in hopes that I could warn a handful of people about the dangers of Facebook. I ended up reaching thousands because of all the supportive people who shared the article.
This entire experience was a valuable reminder that in the midst of trolls, creepers, and Facebook's disappointing community standards, the majority of people are simply .... good.
Score one for the good guys.
I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
That time someone stole my face ...
This past Saturday, a kind stranger sent me a message on Instagram asking if I was:
a) single, and
b) from Burlington, Iowa.
No. Neither. Happily married in NYC, thanks.
The good Samaritan went on to say that she’d received a Facebook friend request from someone named “Layne Ann” (for those of you who clicked this link randomly and don't know who I am, my name is Lauren Layne), and that this person’s Facebook profile picture and cover photo were of …
Disbelieving, I quickly logged on to Facebook and verified that yes, someone by the name of "Layne Ann" had not only used my last name as her first name, but had also used my headshot as her own profile picture.
It gets even creepier.
"Layne Ann" has nearly twenty photos, every single one of them of me.
Someone stole my face.
I was grossed out, especially since this individual didn’t use all of my photos. About 80% of my social media photos are about "book stuff," but not a single book post made the cut, nor any with just my dog, or my Starbucks cup. This person (or smart, face-recognizing bot), used only the pictures of my face.
I can’t tell you how dirty this felt.
How queasy I am.
or how I feel down to my very bones that this is wrong.
Still, I naively figured it would be quickly remedied. I promptly followed Facebook’s instructions for reporting that someone was posing as me.
Facebook’s response was equally prompt. They were unable to verify that the account in question was violating Facebook Community Standards.
I was annoyed, but realized my “mistake.”
All of the photos that were stolen were posted from my official Lauren Layne persona, not my personal profile, which is more or less unused.
I filed another report, this time noting that the person was impersonating “a celebrity,” and linked to my Lauren Layne page as the celebrity being copied.
The violation was clear. My Facebook Page, which is verified* clearly had the same image of ME that "Layne Ann" was using as a picture of HER.
* I point out that my Facebook page is verified, because a Verified Page is supposed to mean the following:
If you see a blue badge on a Page or profile, it means that Facebook confirmed that this is the authentic Page or profile for this public figure, media company or brand
In other words, Facebook itself has verified that I am THE Lauren Layne, and that my Facebook page is the official Facebook presence for my brand.
Anyway, I filed a report, as did my husband.
Facebook again responded to the report promptly with the following message:
Facebook, you're telling me that someone can use a variation of my name, and my FACE, multiple times over, and that it's not a violation of your community standards?
Again, I was naive. I thought maybe my report was getting lost in the shuffle, and I needed to shine more light on it.
I posted the situation on my Facebook page, and asked if any of my 5,000 followers had a spare minute, if they too could report the imposter.
Several did. All received the same response that I did in the screenshot above. Probably a bot auto-responding, but, Facebook?
The feedback that I've received repeatedly in the past 48 hours is that Facebook has no issue with with someone using a variation of my name. Using my face. Using multiple pictures of ME, falsely claiming that it's them.
Dozens of people have now gotten the same response from Facebook that I did, stating that the FAKE "Layne Ann" profile doesn't go against their Community Standards.
How many people is it going to take, Facebook?
How many imposter reports and copyright infringements do I need to file to get my face back?
Because, let’s be really clear about what’s happening here:
This is not a reader screenshotting one of my photos and making a comment about it. Like “love this author,” or “want this shirt” or “mascara goals!”
That stuff happens all the time, and I’m not that bugged by it.
What I find horribly violating about my current situation is this:
The existence of this Facebook account implies that my face Belongs to "Layne Ann."
FACEbook has no issues with the world believing that the fictitious "Layne Ann" is me.
"Layne Ann" (I honestly have no idea if this is an imposter, a creeper, or a malicious bot) isn’t just presenting my photos as their own (bad enough in its own right)--he or she is using my face as his/her own.
It feels an awful lot like identity theft. And it feels disgusting.
So I fought back even harder.
Since Facebook’s “report an imposter account” functionality has proved to be rubbish, I explored other options.
I filled out their lengthy copyright infringement form, providing links to three of the photos, claiming them as intellectual property of LL Book Co (the LLC I do business under), as well as providing a link to the account, AGAIN explaining the situation.
This morning I awoke to a response from Facebook. They did remove the three photos I reported, one of which was their profile picture (also my official author headshot), but it was a small win.
Barely a win at all, actually.
Because the email from Facebook went on to explain:
It looks like your copyright report concerns an entire Page, group, or profile that contains many individual photos, posts and other pieces of content. It’s unclear to us that you own the copyright in all these various items, or that all these various items would be infringing your copyrighted work.
Let me translate:
Facebook took down 3 out of the 20 photos, but no other action was taken.
As I write this, the Layne Ann account still exists. It's now without a profile picture and cover photo, courtesy of the 3 measly photos Facebook removed, but there are still sixteen photos of my face on someone else’s profile:
Could/should I go through and report ALL of the photos of me as copyright infringement? I suppose. As of now it looks like I’ll have to.
But even if I do go through and report each individual photo, even if Facebook concedes and agrees to remove each photo, as far as I can tell, there is nothing to stop “Layne Ann” from adding my photos all over again.
There’s nothing to stop some other creeper from stealing my face, and pretending it’s theirs.
And if that does happen, I'll have to go through this all over again.
I’ve already spent hours trying to get a resolution on this, and I’ll likely spend hours more, either by trying the Band-Aid approach of reporting each photo one-by-one, or by seeking legal aid.
Both options sort of suck. That’s my time. My money.
I should not have to fight this hard to get my face back.
How is this whole situation not a violation of Facebook community standards?
How is okay that I should have to see the below comment next to MY photo on someone else’s Facebook account, and have no recourse?
Now, I do get a fair amount of these types of comments on my own page (one delightful individual loves to comment telling me when I don't look "my best") but the difference is that I’m able to report them as spam/harassment and Facebook promptly removes them. Annoying, but I have some modicum of control.
Here though, my options are to "hide the comment" from my view, or to embed the comment.
I have no option to report this comment because it’s not MY content. Except it is.
Do you see the issue here, Facebook?
Luis' comment above is saying your eyes, he’s using the word “u.”
he’s speaking directly to me , except I don’t want to be spoken to by a strange man. I should have the right to delete this sort of dialog.
Do you see the issue here , Facebook?
Having a public Facebook account to promote my author business should not subject me to this sort of invasive identity theft, even if it is "just" my last name and face that’s been stolen.
Here’s where things stand now: I’ve asked Facebook again to shut down the "Layne Ann" account. No response yet, but based on my past experience I’m fully prepared another “no can do” message.
I’m not sure what after that. I may spend an hour copying/pasting each individual photo link into their copyright infringement form.
I may see if my agent/publisher can help me out with any sort of legal recourse.
Either way, I’m going to fight to get it resolved, but I do know that even if that account does eventually get removed ....
It’s too late for me and Facebook. I want a divorce.
I've begun the process of removing all personal information and photos from my Facebook page, and starting today I’ll no longer be keeping that page current.
Much as I regret that my Facebook-loving readers will be punished for some creeper’s BS, and Facebook’s lax “community standards,”
I’m not comfortable being part of a community that makes it so easy for someone to use my face as their own, with no resolution options for the victim.
Which is why I now need to pull out the soap box and preach at my fellow authors and public figures:
Please be careful.
Or at least be aware, as I was not aware, that the photos you post on your Facebook Author Page are not your own. Anyone can use them as their own, and Facebook will do nothing about it. I have to assume that this includes pictures of you, your spouse, your friends, even your child.
Be careful what you post.
I’m not sure if the personal profiles/accounts have more security and privacy options than Facebook pages. I certainly hope so.
But know that your “official page” — the one that Facebook pushes us authors to use because our personal accounts aren’t supposed to be used for business purposes … you’ve got no protection there.
Your headshot’s apparently fair game for anyone to use as their own. That selfie you took … not yours. It’s anyone on Facebook’s who wants it.
Like everyone else, I’ve heard all the warnings about social media. I’ve heard the whispered rumors about how Facebook owns your content, and all that.
I thought it was all conspiracy-theory mumbo jumbo.
I should have listened to the warnings. I'm embarrassed that I didn't.
And yes, I get that celebrity imposter accounts are common. There's another Lauren Layne who's a super model. Search for her on Instagram and you'll find five accounts with her name/photo, only ONE of which is actually her.
But being common doesn't make it okay. And changing the name from Lauren Layne to Layne Ann doesn't make it okay either. If anything, it's only made it harder to "prove" to Facebook that this person is posing as me.
We should have options. We should have a way to fight back.
We should have a way to say, "That is MY face, not Layne Ann's from Iowa."
Facebook is essentially saying:
Not good enough.
Update - October 4, 2016, 9:45am Eastern, 1-day after original post):
Facebook just replied to my report regarding the intellectual property violation of someone stealing photos I used for business:
Filing a report that someone is using my name/face to "impersonate a celebrity" didn't work. According to Facebook, "Layne Ann" can use my name/face and it's not a violation of Facebook Community Standards.
As of this morning, I've learned that someone using my face/photos as their own also doesn't qualify as infringements of my legal rights of violation of copyright. So no course of action there, either.
The real kicker?
The link Facebook gives me above takes me back to the general Facebook help section.
I click to report a profile.
Guess what it directs me to do?
Yup, you guessed it. Report it as "impersonating a celebrity." Same as I and dozens of other people have already done without resolution.
Full circle. No options.
What now, Facebook?
How do I get my face back?
Thanks for reading, and please, by all means, feel free to share a link to this page. I'd love if as many authors/readers were aware of this sort of violation as possible.
Short link to this article: http://bit.ly/2dUIaxT
Posted by Lauren Layne on October 3, 2016