Shabana Ansari / DNA
- Imposters in the virtual world of Internet are a common problem, say experts
Mumbai, Aug 23: If you have ‘become friends’ with well-known names from India and abroad on social networking sites like Orkut, FaceBook or MySpace, chances are your new-found celebrity pal is an imposter.
With an increasing number of users feigning stardom on the world wide web, sometimes even the most net-savvy amongst us fall for phoney celebrities.
Bollywood actors Shilpa Shetty and Shiney Ahuja are the latest names in the growing list of fake celebrity profiles on social networking sites. “Someone has created accounts for both actors on FaceBook, complete with their pictures and other personal details. Worse still, the impostors are chatting, interacting and making friends with other users posing as Shilpa and Shiney,” said Dale Bhagwagar, the publicist for the actors.
Meanwhile, well-known faces like actors Shamita Shetty and Aryan Vaid have no qualms about pasting genuine profiles on networking sites.
“It is a great way to reach out to fans who would otherwise not have access to their favourite actors,” said television star, Rajev Paul who has a page on Orkut. But the actor’s genuine presence in the virtual world has not deterred impostors. “I have been told that there are 27 profiles in my name on Orkut,” Paul added.
Experts point out that imposters in the virtual world are a common problem. “It is illegal to pretend to be someone else and post a bogus bio-data. But that does not seem to stop people from trying to con others,” said Parry Aftab of ‘www.wiredsafety.org - a website that provides information about cyber safety.
So what seems to be spurring on the impostors? “Some people do it for a laugh, others because they have this desire to live someone else’s life,” says collegian Romesh Shah (name changed on request), who admits to have posed as Bipasha Basu and chatted with the actor’s fans on a networking site. “I realized it was dangerous when the profile started getting abusive and suggestive messages,” he adds.
Social watchdog groups and the police lament that it is virtually impossible to stem out the nuisance due to the vastness of cyber space. “However, if there is a specific complaint, we will track down the mischief monger,” says Sanjay Mohite, Deputy Commissioner of Police (enforcement).