Impersonation and the use of usernames have increasingly become a common problem for today's businesses. As companies strive to maintain an online presence, they often become vulnerable to unwanted online behaviors such as phishing and user name occupation. Impersonation generally refers to the misuse of a username on social media platforms with the intention of tricking others into believing that the account belongs to another person (for example, the user registers an account with a celebrity name and proceeds to publish updates as if it were that celebrity) On the contrary, the usurpation of username generally implies the preventive registration of a specific username or account, without a genuine intention to use that account, followed by attempts to sell the username to the affected / named party at an inflated price. Another strategy is to divert online traffic that would otherwise have gone to the victim of the username occupation.
Because there are no uniform legal statutes that address this problem, social media platforms are free to respond to these problems as they wish. As such, navigating these obstacles can often be confusing and time-consuming for companies that need to recover specific accounts or usernames in a timely manner. Most major social media platforms provide removal mechanisms and related processes. However, some social media platforms allow parody accounts, which makes it difficult to delete or recover certain types of these accounts.
If success cannot be achieved directly with the social media platform, a victim may consider hiring a lawyer to pursue a trademark infringement, unfair competition, online defamation or related claim against the impersonator. One of the fastest ways to obtain a resolution is to hire a lawyer familiar with the internal lawyers on the social media platform. Often, a phone call or email can solve basic problems quickly without litigation. For more complex user impersonation and impersonation problems, a lawsuit may have to be filed. Texas is one of the few states that allows pre-demand depositions. Then, instead of filing an expensive lawsuit, a victim can file a procedure to take the statement of the identity / username impersonation suspect. Often, the threat of that procedure or a lawsuit is enough to get quick assistance from the social media platform.
One of the best defenses against impersonation and squatting name is to proactively register the usernames of social networks avoiding impersonation or occupation in the first place. In addition, Internet lawyers can help protect trademarks by implementing procedures to deter unwanted third party behavior or through litigation, as necessary.