Social media has made everyone a marketer and every individual account a form of brand. Given the global spread of content and the potential severity of negative use of someone's image it is important to understand what rights each person has and how to enforce them.
Your right to identity
Your identity is classified as anything that is unique to you as an individual. It is that which identifies or distinguishes you from others. Your identity can take many forms, in your facial features, life story, name, voice or handwriting. In some cases, it also includes other factors that are unique to an individual such as creditworthiness and character.
A person’s identity is violated when any of these features are used in a way that misrepresents a person’s true image.
Your personality rights
Bearing this in mind, we should now consider “personality rights”, sometimes referred to as “rights of publicity”. These are the rights of an individual to control the use their image, name, likeness or any of the features that characterise their identity, as mentioned above. These rights protect a person's ability to prevent their identity being exploited for commercial means without permission or contractual compensation, it is very similar to trademark laws for products.
How does this affect your Instagram and social media presence?
If someone is impersonating you with a fake social media profile then they are infringing on your identity and, depending on the motive, personality rights. There have been a number of cases in recent years of popular youtube or Instagram accounts being copied to give unofficial endorsements to products or to damage the reputation of an individual. In addition, profiles that falsely claim you sponsor, endorse or are associated with them are also in breach of your personality rights.
What can you do?
A service like delete now can have posts or even entire social media profiles removed, if they are in breach of identity, image or personality rights. This can be something small such as using a picture that you own without permission or, at the more severe end of the spectrum, by impersonating you to damage your reputation.