No, not that Kate Middleton, rather Kate Middleton from Pembury, Kent. After two years of holding an account in her name on the famous social networking site, she tried to log on one day only to find her way barred. The reason given by Facebook? Her account was disabled as she was faking her identity, impersonating her now more famous namesake, the fiancée of Prince William. Facebook are reported as having apologised and looking into her case.
An easy mistake to make perhaps, although a quick trawl through Facebook reveals that there are plenty of other accounts belonging to Kate Middleton – it would seem that they have their work cut out if they are going to go through them all to work out if any are impersonators of either Kate Middleton future royal or from Pembury.
Impersonation is becoming a serious issue, especially in this digital age. Identity theft with the resultant potential financial fraud and embarrassment is on the increase, and we are often reminded to be vigilant regarding what we reveal about ourselves online and in the ‘real’ world so that we don’t unintentionally let slip anything that others can use against us (as football pundit Andy Gray found out this week with his ‘off-air’ comments about female linesmen).
As many of you will know, I’m a fan of social networking. I’ve got both a Facebook and Twitter account and use them to keep in touch with friends old and new and indeed all around the world. I also run a number of websites (church and hobby related) and a blog (online journal). During the next couple of weeks I shall be using both my Twitter account and the SLM site to let people know how we’re getting on in Sierra Leone – do pop by and say hello! I’ve become increasingly aware how careful you have to be in what you post as once something you’ve written is out there it can’t be retracted, and often there is the illusion that you’re conducting a private conversation when what you write is open for all sorts of people to read (the things I see revealed on Facebook for example are staggering sometimes, things people wouldn’t say in public, and yet write for all the world to see causing hurt, confusion and embarrassment!)
As a Christian minister, however, I want to encourage identity theft! There is a form of impersonation that is to be encouraged, that in fact is fundamental to being followers of Jesus. Paul repeatedly refers to our identity as being ‘in Christ’. He says that when we were baptised, we clothed ourselves in him (Gal. 3:27) and that we should put him on rather than our fallen nature (Romans 13:14). It is a challenge, although fortunately we have the gift of the Spirit to help us, but wouldn’t be wonderful if our Facebook accounts were disabled because people thought we were committing this particular identity fraud.
Church Newsletter Article for Sunday 30th January