Not every message on Facebook or on the Messenger app comes from the person whose name has been attached to it, and some statements have been wrongly attributed to celebrities and public figures. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison, File)

Not every message on Facebook or on the Messenger app comes from the person whose name has been attached to it, and some statements have been wrongly attributed to celebrities and public figures. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison, File)

COLUMN: Fake accounts and wrong attributions spread misinformation

Names of celebrities have been attached to statements they didn’t make

Not too long ago, some friends received rather odd messages from me. The messages, through Messenger, had my name attached and used the same profile picture I used for my personal Facebook account.

Those who replied to the initial greeting and asked about me received the reply, “Doing good but bored with this pandemic, though. Just finished my second vaccination a few days ago.” Those who responded to that comment received a link to a site where they could apply to receive money.

The account was a fake and those who know me should have been able to tell almost immediately.

To begin, I wouldn’t say I’m “bored with this pandemic.” For the last 15 months, I’ve seen the COVID-19 pandemic as a time of new challenges and unique opportunities, and while it hasn’t always been easy, I’m certainly not bored.

READ ALSO: Beware fake text messages claiming COVID-19 test results

READ ALSO: B.C. doctors could face consequences for spreading COVID misinformation: college

Little grammatical mistakes and typos – misplaced commas, missing capitalization and sentences without periods – were another clue the comments were not mine.

Multiple friends contacted me and reported the message to Facebook and Instagram as coming from a fake account.

This isn’t the first time someone has sent messages from an account claiming to be me.

Usually, imposter accounts are taken down within minutes. This one took longer. I was in contact with Instagram at least six times before it was removed.

Later, I was left thinking about what had happened.

Someone had chosen to use my name and my reputation to make statements I would not have made and to promote something I would not endorse. This happens too often, to too many people.

For instance, a few years ago, a poem about brand names, attributed to African-American poet Maya Angelou, was circulating online. But the language and tone in the poem were nothing at all like Angelou’s writings.

A sweet, sentimental essay, The Paradox of Our Times, has been attributed to counterculture comedian George Carlin. But Carlin, known for his 1972 monologue, Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television, didn’t write this piece.

“It’s not only bad prose and poetry, it’s weak philosophy. I hope I never sound like that,” he wrote in response. The essay was in fact penned by Bob Moorehouse, a former pastor in Seattle.

The essay didn’t sound like Carlin. The use of language and the message were both unlike anything he had written or said before. Was this a simple case of an error in attribution, or was it an example of using Carlin’s name and reputation to promote this piece? Either way, the work was not Carlin’s.

“I want people to know that I take care with my writing, and try to keep my standards high,” Carlin once said in response to The Paradox of Our Times.

There are also cases where a fabricated statement – not simply a wrongly attributed quote – is used to discredit or embarrass a person or organization. And there are times when someone’s name is used to shill a product or service.

This is what happened with the imposter who sent messages under my name. In each of these cases, something about the quotation or statement didn’t sound right. That should have been enough to prompt readers to do a bit of research.

That profound quote or inspirational essay might not have come from the person whose name is attached to it. And that puzzling text message may have come from an imposter rather than a friend.

John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.

To report a typo, email:
news@summerlandreview.com
.



news@summerlandreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Columnist

Just Posted

Yoga with Goats instructor Samantha Richardson gets some attention from one of the goats while stretching on her mat June 15 at O’Keefe Ranch. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Yoga gone to the goats at North Okanagan ranch

Get your downward dog on with some four-legged friends at O’Keefe

The Rockets salute the crowd on the completion of the 2019-20 season. The team is hoping for billet families to get the 2021-22 season off the ground. (Claire Palmer photo)
Golden Rockets looking for billet families

The Rockets are looking for billet families for the 2021-22 KIJHL season

With high temperatures forecasted for the week and into the next, Interior Health is offering some tips on how to keep yourself safe from heat-related illness. (Pixabay)
Interior Health offers safety tips as temperatures soar

‘Too much heat can be harmful to your health’

Kurt Swanson’s dog Kona takes a break from the heat on the Summer Solstice near Cranbrook, B.C. (Kurt Swanson photo)
Very warm temperatures forecast across the Kootenays this weekend

Nelson, Castlegar forecast to hit 39, Cranbrook 37

Traffic will be diverted through Radium along highways 93 and 95 as a part of the closures. (Claire Palmer photo)
Extended closures to Trans-Canada Highway announced east of Golden this fall

It’s the second round of extended closures as a part of Phase 4 of the Kicking Horse Canyon Project

A person stands in a tower on the perimeter of the Number 3 Detention Center in Dabancheng in western China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on April 23, 2021. Human rights groups and Western nations led by the United States, Britain and Germany accused China of massive crimes against the Uyghur minority and demanded unimpeded access for U.N. experts at a virtual meeting on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 denounced by China as “politically motivated” and based on “lies.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Mark Schiefelbein
VIDEO: Trudeau demands truth from China about Uyghurs

PM says Canada has admitted broken Indigenous relationship, unlike China on Uyghurs

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, middle right, participates in a ribbon-cutting ceremony in honour of the launch of Kelowna’s plasma donor centre at Orchard Plaza Mall on June 22. From left to right: Canadian Blood Services’ business development manager Janna Pantella, Canadian Blood Services’ operational excellence manager Tyler Burke, Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran and Canadian Blood Services’ centre manager Janine Johns. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
B.C.’s first dedicated plasma donor centre opens in Kelowna

The Kelowna location is the third dedicated plasma donor to open in Canada

Susan Kootnekoff is the founder of Inspire Law, an Okanagan based-law practice, and provides Kelowna Capital News with weekly stories from the world of local, national and international law. (Contributed)
Kootnekoff: Access to justice and residential schools in Canada

Susan Kootnekoff is the founder of Inspire Law, her diverse legal career spans over 20 years

Children walk with their parents to Sherwood Park Elementary in North Vancouver for the first day back to school on Sept. 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Study reassures parents, teachers that COVID-19 infrequently shared at school

Federally funded study in Vancouver finds risk in the classroom and in the community identical

Conservative MP Kevin Waugh rises during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday April 13, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Single-game sports betting about to become legal in Canada

Senate passes bill to take sports gambling away from overseas agencies

Point Roberts is part of the mainland United States but not physically connected to it, to reach the community by land one must pass through Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Closed Canadian border leaves Point Roberts’ only grocery store on verge of closure

‘We’re Americans but we’re not attached to America. It’s easy to forget we’re here,’ says owner Ali Hayton

Mayla Janzen and Ashley Hoppichler, with her daughters Lily and Sophia, are bringing a Friday evening market to Polson Park, starting July 2. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Entrepreneurs craft up Vernon night market

Friday evening Polson Park event to take place throughout the summer

Splatsin Chief Wayne Christian and Tina William lead the Every Child Matters March in Enderby Monday, June 21. (Lyndsey Leon photo)
Hundreds march with Splatsin in Enderby for #215

300 orange-shirt wearing people of all backgrounds turned out in support

Wade Cudmore, seen here with his mother Kathy Richardson, had his first court appearance in relation to first degree murder charges in the deaths of Erick and Carlo Fryer Tuesday, June 22, 2021. (Kathy Richardson/Facebook)
Man charged in Naramata double homicide appears in Penticton court

Wade Cudmore appeared for the first time in relation to first degree murder charges

Most Read