Susan Arnout Smith is a writer of thrillers, plays, TV movies, and NPR essays. But for a long time, if you looked her up on Facebook, you would find not the respectable website of a published author, but an obscene, pornographic site of a fake persona “trolling for sex,” she writes. Someone stole her identity, took a picture of her off the Internet, and created a fake profile—and on Salon, she details her struggle to get the horrifying page deleted. Facebook wouldn’t do anything. Police couldn’t do anything. Her tech guy couldn’t do anything. The page had already been online eight months before she found it, and soon another month had passed with no response from Facebook.
“I had built my reputation brick by brick over decades, one project at a time,” but “the Internet makes it easy to casually carve up real people in some cartoon world,” she writes. Finally, she took matters into her own hands and used her investigative reporting skills to track down the perpetrators, random teenagers at two schools across the globe who chose her to impersonate for no apparent reason. One of their principals managed the seemingly impossible task of getting the page removed—and Smith never pressed charges, only asked that the kids be made to understand how their actions had hurt her. “Did they learn a lesson? I have no idea. But I know this. They stole something from me. It was hard to get it back, but I did.” Click for her entire essay, including the reason she won’t reveal the teens’ names.