Shell accounts. Sock Puppets. Fakes.
These are just some of the terms used for fake social media accounts; an account with a name and perhaps a picture that are not actually indicative of the person behind the keyboard.
Many people have used shell accounts for many reasons over the years. Some are benign; individuals trying to sign up for one more free trial of a software or simply hiding the fact that you have an account from an employers. Others have had more nefarious purposes such as the Russian back effort to influence U.S. elections . Some politicians have even been known to create accounts to attack rivals and interact with voters anonymously .
No matter the reason, the phenomenon is here and here to stay.
I have had many clients over the years ask if creating an account to compliment their own business or question a potential opponent on an issue is illegal. I would think the answer obvious but, in case it isn't, here you go.
Is It Illegal To Have a Fake Facebook Account?
Simply having an account that does not accurately reflect who you are as a person is not illegal in the United States of America. While it may be a violation of most platforms terms of service, especially Facebook, to create a fake account there is no law against it.
However, what you do with that account can still come back to haunt you. Using a fake account to illicit some kind of financial benefit under false pretenses could be considered fraud. Prosecutors using fake accounts to get information on suspects may be a violation of their constitutional rights . Basically, any activity that would be a crime regardless of whether you used your real name or not will still be a crime.
You should always assume that, eventually, you will at a minimum be revealed as a fake account. A worst case scenario would be if your true identity was revealed and you had a legitimate reason to keep it concealed.
Fake accounts have their purpose but they may not be worth the trouble no matter the legal consequences.