April Yau came across her fake Facebook profile by total chance. She was going about her regular work day when she received a message from a friend with a link to a profile of someone named Jennifer Chen. While the woman's name was different, her photos looked eerily familiar.
That's because they were Yau's.
The profile featured most of Yau's profile pictures, as well as some photos that the 27-year-old had marked as private, meaning they were only available to her friends.
"I was a little flattered at first," Yau tells The Huffington Post B.C., saying it wasn't until she saw a photo of her lying in a hospital bed that she started to feel really creeped out, because that picture "wasn't public domain."
From there, Yau's suspicions grew.
"Some of these photos have been posted since July of last year," she says. "So how long has this person been looking at me? Who is this person? And what else do they know about me?"
After seeing the profile on Oct. 18, she submitted a report to Facebook Canada on Oct. 21 saying that the Jennifer Chen profile was an impersonation and asking for it to be taken down. At first, Facebook declined, stating that the profile didn't breach any of the site's privacy terms.
Yau, an Account Manager at 6S Marketing in Vancouver, says it wasn't until Facebook saw a Vancouver Sun article about her struggle that they took serious notice. By early morning on Oct. 22, the whole ordeal had been promptly handled, and the account deleted.
Yau still doesn't know who was behind the fake profile, but thinks she might have been the victim of catfishing (when someone sets up a social media account using a false identity, usually to draw people into fake romantic relationships). She calls herself digitally literate—she's good at staying up-to-date on Facebook's ever-changing privacy settings—so she presumes the fake profile was started by someone within her circle of Facebook friends.
"It's a bit scary to realize that someone that I know or have met may have done that," she says. "Looking at it in retrospect, it was probably someone who was bored. I don't really feel scared anymore—just annoyed."
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