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Letter: 'Devastating' that fake Facebook users mask as deceased Port Moody community advocate

Should there be stronger security for creating accounts after some appear to use the photo and name of Mary Anne Cooper, who passed away in November 2021?
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Port Moody heritage advocate and activist Mary Anne Cooper died on Nov. 28, 2021. However, it appears new Facebook accounts are using her name and photo and are sending friend requests to local residents. | Mario Bartel, Tri-City News

The Editor,

Fake profiles, spam and identity theft in social media come up in so many in-person conversations now.

The proliferation of bots is a rapidly escalating issue which impacts real human beings.

Now, less than halfway through the year, I can recall dozens of articles published by mainstream media in 2023 regarding internet fraud.

It was devastating to get a friend request from Mary Anne Cooper earlier this week.

Upon her passing, the 107-year-old community advocate was described as "an inspiration to many" in Diane Strandberg's article published by the Tri-City News on Nov. 29, 2021.

My friend Tanya commented about her partner on my Facebook entry about this fake profile: "If someone made a fake account with his info, it would be devastating. I feel your angst."

Port Moody resident Gaetan Royer recounts his story of an apparent fake Facebook account pretending to be Mary Anne Cooper, who passed away at 107 years old on Nov. 28, 2021. By Gaetan Royer

Identity theft targeting a person's digital afterlife is prevalent.

With so many people maintaining legacy profiles for loved ones, the impersonation of a deceased person is disconcertingly easy.

Facebook is not the dark web, it is an important social interaction tool. It has many community benefits: publicizing events, sharing news about the birth of a grandchild.

It is, whether we admit it or not, part of our social lives.

I suggest that, as a society, we need ID checkpoints on the internet.

Like getting a passport, getting an online identity needs to be a lot more difficult than it is today.

- Gaetan Royer, Port Moody