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Oct. 18, 2018 | Thursday
Local News
Mayor victim of social media impersonators
Photo illustration. (Richard Harley/Niagara Now)

As Niagara Falls mayor Jim Diodati put it, it can get pretty crazy out there on social media.

Diodati took to Facebook on Saturday to let people know he was made aware of at least two fake social media accounts registered in his name during the weekend.

Diodati said the fake accounts are on Instagram, a popular photo sharing app. 

He said whoever created the accounts is sharing photos of his family.

“Hello Facebook friends. It can get pretty crazy out there on social media sometimes! This weekend there are at least two fake accounts that have been created in my name on Instagram. These are impersonators sharing photos of my family and posting them as their own. Please stick to the accounts you know are real and share and communicate on those. My real instagram profile is below!” said Diodati’s Facebook post, followed by his actual social media accounts, which are diodatij on Instagram and @jimdiodati on Twitter.

The situation brings into question why somebody would create a fake profile, as well as the rights politicians have to be free from harassment.

According to Calgary Herald columnist Naomi Lakritz, politicians should be protected from "nasty attacks on social media."

In her Mar. 19 column, she used an example of a town in Newfoundland and Labrador called Witless Bay, where town council unanimously passed a motion to hire an independent criminal lawyer to review social media posts that threaten or falsely accuse council or councillors.

“In other words, messages that could be libellous because they represent a smear campaign or implicate a councillor in criminal activity,” she wrote.

Similarly, issues of identity theft and the use of intellectual property could be reviewed, according to the Witless Bay motion.

Lakrtiz argues this is a not-so-witless move by Witless Bay council.

The motion has received mixed reactions from Witless Bay residents, some claiming the motion infringes on free speech and if acted upon would be using public money to penalize the public for speaking out.

Lakritz said she doesn’t think free speech is being silenced and that a lawyer should know what is and is not a violation of the law.

“Witless Bay’s move could be a model for restoring some civility to the ugly free-for-all of social media, for all levels of government,” she wrote.

Story in development.

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