Virtual life is free, fun and, should we say for a few, ‘fake’. People love to create identities on websites. Though it has never been researched but, if evaluated, fake profiles would consume substantial space on social networking sites’ server space. A fake profile, per se, is not illegal, if it is not used to commit an offence. However, if the offence is committed, fake profiles do have evidentiary value. For the purpose of this article, let us assume that the profiles have been created for fun and no offence is involved.
Social networking sites have been categorised as intermediaries under Indian law. Intermediaries by definition mean that they do not provide their own content. Rather the owners provide the content and the social networking sites merely facilitate posting of such content. The relevant guidelines applicable to intermediaries are also silent on the issue of fake profiles. Notable exceptions being (a) impersonation; and (b) information belonging to any other person, which the intermediary is required to remove.
Also see: Financial Express: India's Best Banks
Practically, the site cannot do much when it comes to sanitising itself with respect to fake profiles. There are certain sites that allow for screening of posts. However, such screening relates only to texts which are offensive. Even the law does not require the sites to undertake due diligence in such