A Whitehaven High School student we'll call "Adrienne" sent me this e-mail after she says someone hijacked her MySpace profile:
"...someone had stolen my pictures from my Myspace page and made a false page using my identity. They left vulgar words that seemed to downgrade me as if I said all of those things...I am coming to you because I trust your judgment and I know that you could really get to the bottom of this before this happens to someone else."
Adrienne, this kind of thing happens all the time, all over the planet to people's MySpace accounts. Because MySpace is designed as a PUBLIC forum for people to connect in ways they never could before, impostors are sometimes the price we pay for this kind of access.
In fact, someone has opened a MySpace profile made to look like me, too -- with all kinds of inappropriate content.
But MySpace has security features that can put a stop to impostors. Here they are with the keystroke-by-keystroke steps to launching them, thanks to Tracy Akselrud of MySpace:
1. Private Profiles
Every profile has the option of being ‘private.' This means that only you and those you have added and approved as friends can see the details of your profile, including your blog, photos, interests, etc. With a private setting only people who know you in the real, physical world can contact you.
To set your profile to ‘private,' first sign in to your MySpace account. In the ‘Classic View of the profile', click on the ‘Account Settings' link next to your profile picture In the ‘New Home Skin' view of the profile, click on ‘Settings' from the Control Panel located below your profile picture. Select ‘Privacy' from the top navigation bar. In ‘Profile Viewable By' select ‘My Friends Only'. Now, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on ‘Save All Changes' to ensure your updated settings have been saved.
2. Pre-approve Comments
The default setting for comments on MySpace profiles does not require comments to be approved prior to appearing on your profile.
To change your settings so you can approve comments before they are posted, sign in to your MySpace account. In the ‘Classic View of the profile', click on the ‘Account Settings' link next to your profile picture In the ‘New Home Skin' view of the profile, click on ‘Settings' from the Control Panel located below your profile picture. Select ‘Spam' from the top navigation bar. In ‘Comments' select ‘Require approval before comments are posted'. Now, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on ‘Save All Changes' to ensure your updated settings have been saved.
3. Block another user
If a user that you do not know or want to interact with contacts you, you have the ability to block them from future contact. Also, if you feel this person may be a threat to yourself or others, immediately notify a trusted adult or law enforcement and report the user to MySpace through the ‘Contact MySpace' link at the bottom of every page.
To block a user from contacting you, go to the user's page and under their profile picture click on the ‘Block User' link. A pop-up window will appear asking you if you are sure you want to block this user. Click ‘Ok.' to confirm.
At Adrienne's request, I reported the impostor's MySpace web addresses to MySpace's security folks. I'd hate to be the one behind those addresses right now.