For several months, many fake accounts have appeared on social networks, especially on Twitter and Instagram. These identity thefts, which have multiplied in recent days, hit public figures in French-speaking Switzerland, including politicians and journalists.
In recent days, Twitter has seen the birth of many fake accounts in the names of politicians or journalists from French-speaking Switzerland. If the list is long, we can mention in particular among the personalities concerned the Green Councilor Léonore Porchet, the PLR’s Christian Lüscher or the editor-in-chief of radio news at RTS, Laurent Caspary. These are each personalities with a relatively large community.
These fake accounts are not easy to distinguish from the real ones. Their used names are actually identical, their nicknames differ by only one letter, and the fraudsters go so far as to copy some of their publications to perfect the imitation.
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But what can these fake accounts be used for? “There are often several goals behind it,” replied the Forum microphone on Monday Juliette Ancelle, a lawyer specializing in new technology law. “But usually it’s to gain economic benefits, or to promote products. Sometimes it’s also to damage the reputation of public figures.”
But as she points out, pretending to be someone else on social media is not in itself a criminal offense. For this identity theft to be punishable, it must be accompanied by another proven violation, “such as hacking, theft, copyright infringement or defamation,” she specifies, adding that it is often the use of images that breaks down a fake account. . “Because an image is protected by copyright.”
>> Watch Juliette Ancelles interview in Forum:
The situation will change in 2022 with the entry into force of the new Data Protection Act. Identity theft will then be an offense listed in the Penal Code.
Affected persons may make it known publicly that the other account is fake, but it is more complicated when they are not on social media. This is the bad experience that Luca Loutenbach experienced, for example this Jura supporter of Nati, whose face became famous on the internet after the football match between Switzerland and France.
If he did not have an Instagram account in the beginning, someone quickly took care of it for him. The fake account quickly exceeded around 10,000 followers, mainly by trying to sell them bitcoins.
It is difficult to regain control
To regain her own digital identity, the real Luca Loutenbach was forced to create an account. A task that turned out to be complex, for all the videos and photos he published were then instantly taken over by the robber.
This fake account was finally deactivated on Sunday after terminations. But other accounts are left. Luca Loutenbach has so far contacted a lawyer who will contact the platforms in question directly so that they send an opening letter to the robbers.
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“Often these platforms in their relationship are banned from pretending to be someone else, but you have to prove it, condemn it, send your identity papers … It takes time and energy and money when you get a lawyer,” says Juliette Ancelle.
In any case, for the specialist lawyer, it is above all a phenomenon linked to sudden visibility that people are often unprepared for. She therefore advises internet users to become aware of their digital presence. “When exposed to a phenomenon of visibility, they should see if their name circulates on social networks to act quickly.”
Radio subject: Anouk Pernet
Web Customization: Fabien Grenon
>> Watch the interview with Pierre-André Page (UDC / FR) at 7.30 pm: