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Keeping Your Social Identity Safe

News 8 looks at how to protect photos, and other personal information people post to social media websites.
Nicholas Lipinczyk's worst virtual nightmare recently became a reality when the 20-year-old says he discovered someone had taken his facebook photos, and used them to create a fake profile.

"I went to his information," described Lipinczyk. "It was basically looking at my profile with a different name and different statuses and everything. I mean, I kind of didn't know what to think at that point."

The account was created under the name "Bryce DeNapoli."

Lipinczyk said Bryce's creator had access to his pictures because they were acquaintances through high school.
Once more, Kaydee Marie Zimmerman of Buffalo says she believed Bryce was real. And although she'd never talked to him, she began dating him online.

She told News 8 that she now knows she was scammed and describes the experience as "truly terrible."

Online false impersonation has sparked a reality show called "Catfish" on MTV.

The show uncovers whether internet identities are real.

RiT lecturer Harris Weisman has been researching information security since the mid '90's.

"Be smart. Be skeptical. Be paranoid a little bit," he said.

He said it's become increasingly easier for your information to fall into the wrong hands, and there's no real way to regulate it.

If you think about it, a driver's license serves as a validating form of id. But online, there's no government issued web ID. Weisman said the concept has been out there for years. The problem is managing it.

"It got to be so big in scope," said Weisman. "How do you do that for a country? Or the world? It just blew people's minds."

Weisman said there are steps you can take to protect yourself.

He said be careful and think before you post.

He also suggested using alternate sites, like Flickr, for example, to share pictures with specific people instead of a mass audience like Facebook.

Ultimately, he believes it should be up to the social media giant to better protect its users, like Lipinczyk.

"Never in a million years did I think it would happen to me." Lipinczyk said.

Lipinczyk now thinks twice about who he is friends with and what he posts.

He cautions others to do the same.

We reached out to both the person believed to have created the fake profile and to Facebook.

Neither responded.

However, the fake profile was taken down following our report.

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