LIANE HANSEN, host:
Identity theft is becoming a problem on social networking sites. Some users steal images of pretty girls to attract romantic attention. Others grab the photo of someone they dislike to create a fake derogatory profile. And, as Youth Radio's Asha Richardson reports, imposter pages are fundamentally changing the way teenagers interact on these sites.
ASHA RICHARDSON: When 17-year-old Jenay Powers(ph) got a random message saying someone had created a fake MySpace page with her name and photos, she knew a hater had stolen her identity. But once she saw how the page described her, her jaw dropped.
Ms. JENAY POWERS: It said ho, slut, skank, and that I have sex for free.
RICHARDSON: And it's not just haters who will steal your photo to make a fake profile. I talked to 19-year-old Holly Daniels(ph), an aspiring model in Austin, Texas, whose picture was used to create a virtual MySpace girlfriend for a guy she never met.
Ms. HOLLY DANIELS: He put me in his top friends. And he would write comments back and forth so it looked like he was talking to me, and it was really him talking to his self. So, kind of creepy.
RICHARDSON: Holly wrote to MySpace to get the profile shut down. A MySpace administrator told her to send a proof pic, a photo of herself holding a card with her real Web address on it. To keep from being copied again, Holly now watermarks all her new online photos by typing her real Web address over them. So do lots of other teenagers.
And the thing is, these proof pics don't even work anymore. As soon as people started posting them, determined fakers learned how to edit out watermarks. So to be safe, many teens like Mark Williams(ph) are making YouTube videos where they actually say their Web addresses and boast that they've been copycatted online.
(Soundbite of YouTube video)
Mr. MARK WILLIAMS: Hey, what up, y'all? I'm here to talk about how MySpace stinks. I've seen, like, five or six pages that I know of that have pictures of me that ain't me.
RICHARDSON: You can tell from his video that this guy isn't really afraid of someone stealing his photos. It's more like he's proud of it. For lots of people my age, proof pics and videos have become status symbols that let the world know someone wants to be me. Even Jenay is actually embracing the fact that someone stole her online identity.
Ms. POWERS: I'm kind of bigheaded about it. I'm not going to lie. Like, my friend, when she puts her ID on her pictures, she, like, kind of says, like, can't be me, nothing better than me. So I guess it kind of fills up people's head.
RICHARDSON: Not mine. For me, trying to figure out who I am in real life, at home and at school, is pressure enough. So I recently decided to delete my MySpace account to prevent fakers from trying to copy and paste my life.
For NPR News, I'm Asha Richardson.
HANSEN: Asha Richardson is a high school senior in Oakland, California. Her story was produced by Youth Radio.
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