How do you feel about people who use other people's photos as avatars?

@boiboing (12879)
Northampton, England
January 11, 2016 6:35am CST
I am guilty of this. My avatar isn't ACTUALLY me - but it is my cat and so long as I keep feeding him, he doesn't care. He's already granted me image rights to his furry person in perpetuity which is pretty big of him. He's got problems typing - says it's something to do with not having opposable thumbs but I suspect he's just lazy. What I'm referring to is people who use an avatar of someone else. Not themselves, not their mum, sister, daughter, kitten etc - just somebody they probably don't even know. I've seen it a lot in the past - indeed on the Ciao website, a friend and I hunted down a good dozen or so of fraudsters using photos that they'd taken off the internet to hide who they actually were. Most were duplicate accounts using their fake IDs to wreak havoc around the site.They all got deleted. Why am I prompted to think about this? Sometimes I notice that newbies turn up with particularly stunning or unusual photos that don't seem to match their location. For example you might find a photo of tall blonde who looks Swedish but her location says Turkey or Senegal (I made that up - so don't go looking) or someone who is just TOO pretty to be believable. I search using google images and about half the time there's something fishy. The photo appears with a model agency's 'watermark' or it links to a twitter page where somebody with a completely different name in a totally different country is twittering away, not knowing that their photo is being 'redeployed' on other sites. A lot of people write posts moaning that their writing has been stolen and used on other sites. I think I'd be more pissed off if I found out my photo had been stolen and some total stranger was pretending to be me. If you don't want people to see what you really look like, that's fine. Put up a picture of your car /dog / baby /alligator / teddy bear - whatever - just don't go stealing somebody else's face. Has it happened to you or have you noticed people using stolen faces?
20 people like this
20 responses
@jaboUK (55159)
• United Kingdom
11 Jan 16
I can't say I've noticed this, but anyone would have the right to feel indignant if someone used their personal photo.
5 people like this
@owlwings (40039)
• Cambridge, England
11 Jan 16
I haven't found anyone else using my photo - I guess that I'm not pretty enough - but I've seen many people using the photos of film stars and quite a few using photos from dating websites and business sites. The commonest use of these appears to be to make people think the person is female when they are not (I don't think I've ever found females pretending to be male) or to try to gain some credibility by using a business-like image, usually of a white male when the person is really of Asian origin. I hardly ever see it as a 'reportable' offence but it can often be a 'red flag' call to investigate that person's profile more fully to see if it's possible to trip them up some other way.
2 people like this
@boiboing (12879)
• Northampton, England
11 Jan 16
Yes, I'm suspicious of people who aren't honest about who they are but wouldn't consider it reportable on a site like this. In the case of the other site, where malicious intent was behind the deception, it cleaned the place up no end once they were gone.
1 person likes this
@WorDazza (10089)
• Manchester, England
11 Jan 16
Damn! I knew it was only a matter of time before someone sussed that my avatar is too pretty to be believable!!
1 person likes this
@boiboing (12879)
• Northampton, England
11 Jan 16
There was I thinking you were so handsome that you'd toned down the picture to stop the ladies fainting.
1 person likes this
@WorDazza (10089)
• Manchester, England
11 Jan 16
@boiboing Oh I have! I might have gone too far though!!!!
@boiboing (12879)
• Northampton, England
11 Jan 16
@WorDazza We'll get a fancy morphing software package to turn you into Peter Beardsley. That should do the trick.
1 person likes this
@trivia79 (7887)
• El Segundo, California
12 Jan 16
facebook has lot of that thing. Many posers messing around and fooling other people.
1 person likes this
@Drosophila (16692)
• Ireland
11 Jan 16
Not been paying attention to these tbh.. my avatar is a picture I took in west Ireland.. there are probably similar shots out there.. but that's where the similarity ends I guess.
1 person likes this
• Te Puke, New Zealand
12 Jan 16
Yes I totally see, it does seem a bit creepy using someone else's face Like a cat or animal, or a favourite actor I guess is ok, even cartoons are ok but a complete strangers face mmmm I ain't one too judge just seems odd but hey we are all odd I guess in our little ways haha
@boiboing (12879)
• Northampton, England
12 Jan 16
If people want to use beautiful models I think it's sad that they are pretending to be someone they are not. If people don't want to show their faces - and I choose not to here - then there are many alternatives. But I would never steal somebody else's face.
• Te Puke, New Zealand
12 Jan 16
@boiboing yes I totally agree a strangers face that's a little weird Like what's the point of being someone else !!!!! No one is here to judge :)
@boiboing (12879)
• Northampton, England
12 Jan 16
@Wonderwall79 Hmm, I'm not sure I'd go quite that far
@LadyDuck (188846)
• Switzerland
11 Jan 16
I have noticed plenty of stolen faces, some even of well known singers and actors. I wonder if this could be considered "plagiarism", in a sense it is.
@boiboing (12879)
• Northampton, England
11 Jan 16
I think it's only when the intent is to deceive that it's a problem.
1 person likes this
@LadyDuck (188846)
• Switzerland
11 Jan 16
@boiboing Yes, the fact to have "stolen" a picture is not the real problem, but it's not nice to try to fake your real identity.
@LLSummer (586)
• Guizhou, China
11 Jan 16
I haven't found someone stealing my photo as their avatar, maybe I am so ugly. haha whatever. but I do find someone's avatar are not themselve, some of them use some hot stars'photo as their avatar. I guess those stars are idol for them. and I think the situation is normal. do you agree with me?
@boiboing (12879)
• Northampton, England
11 Jan 16
I think it's not unusual to use a famous person - and that's fine so long as it's obvious who it is.
• United States
12 Jan 16
@boiboing this irks me too especially when someone uses the face of a child. No one deserves to have their image associated with writing that they don't have association with.
• China
12 Jan 16
Believe it or not ,I found on other sites that somebody used american president 's photo as avatar.If what you said happened to me I would be offended at it .Here I used my granddaughter's as avatar before now ,now it is my own .
@troyburns (1428)
• New Zealand
12 Jan 16
I haven't seen much of this here, but I used to love all the supermodel avatars on Bubblews - it was my #1 shortcut for detecting plagiarists and scammers.
@akalinus (22987)
• United States
12 Jan 16
I think a lot of people use pictures of family members, presumably with their permission. When you see a toddler or baby or a cat or dog, you know that is not the babe or pet writing. I am miffed by people who take your post and copy and paste it somewhere else under their own name. Some people have good reasons for not wanting to post their own photo.
@Jessicalynnt (47879)
• Centralia, Missouri
11 Jan 16
I figured this happened, as I see famous people now and then too lol, but not I!
@poehere (17676)
• French Polynesia
11 Jan 16
I think it is wrong to do this one. I don't like people who steal photos off the net as it is. Let alone personal images and use them as their own. I too have noticed people who do this and I would rather use a generic image for an avatar than steal a photo of another person.
11 Jan 16
Using celebrities photos, is a given. But to pretend to be someone else is really fishy.
• United States
11 Jan 16
I don't pay enough attention to this to have noticed. I only use the avatars to remember my favorite writers, and they often don't use faces.
• United States
11 Jan 16
It has not happened to me. In the past I have seen images of people and I find it hard to believe it's really them. The picture looks too professionally done, or too glamorous. I haven't seen any in awhile though.
@JudyEv (141836)
• Bunbury, Australia
11 Jan 16
I haven't noticed this but then I don't know that I'm very observant in that way. I can't imagine anyone would want to steal my photo. I'd be really annoyed if it happened.
@simone10 (21646)
• Louisville, Kentucky
11 Jan 16
I noticed this a lot on other sites and haven't noticed it so much on here yet.
• United States
11 Jan 16
I think some people use photos of 'beautiful' women to draw attention. Many times it turns out that they are men...LOL fooled you! I am not big on having my photo taken and the one I use is by Abby and I and the only one anyone will find of me and I use it a lot.