No, that’s not me on Instagram

Someone is impersonating me (or at least trying to mislead people into thinking he/she/it is me) on Instagram. This person is using my Twitter avatar, my bio, and generally causing a lot of confusion.

I tried to report the profile to Instagram, and Instagram told me that to complete the report, I would have to send a scan of my government-issued identification.

Fuck. That.

So: I can’t get the account taken down, but that’s not me on Instagram. Tell your friends. Or don’t. I’m not the boss of you.

85 thoughts on “No, that’s not me on Instagram”

    1. The DNA sample can be left on their doorstep, in a brown paper bag. Ignite the bag, ring the bell, then run.

  1. I think instagram will respond faster to a letter from your attorney. I do not think it violates the DBAD rule because you tried the nice route.

    Bummed that people out there have to be jerks.

    1. I’m sure he doesn’t care about showing it, but faxing a copy of it to a non-goverment regulated website.. where someone could probably take that scan and use it for their own purposes.. that’s more the point.

      1. Exactly my knee-jerk reaction. How many “celebrity booking photos” have we seen on the internet the last few years? For all we know, someone at Instagram set up the impersonation profile just to get him to send his ID to them!

      2. Exactly… Someone is impersonating you? Send us the rest of your identity so they can make the impersonation 100% accurate.

  2. Try blacking out all info from your ID except photo, name, & expiration date. It worked fine when I had to shut down an impersonator. It worked for me.

    (Granted, I thought the stakes merited the risk: this person was posting recommendations of his apps under my name and avatar.)

    Or even try sending a new photo of you holding up a hand-lettered sign. They ask for certain kinds of ID confirmation as a matter of course, but those things are going to be screened by human beings who can just say “Good enough.”

    1. Correct, they do not need the private information such as address or ID number, they just need proof of ID.

    2. Can we PLEASE get a verification on this comment, I HAVE to know if this was posted by the guy who HATED that Superhero movie I like ;-D

  3. ditto Andy Ihnatko — I had to do the same. I went old school and used opaque tape to cover the personal info (other than name) and then photographed that (no photoshop).

    Worked like a charm.

  4. Well, if don’t send some kind of identification, how they are going to know that you are you? Seriously. You could be an impersonator trying to ban the real Will.
    Living in a country where you can’t do any serious thing without showing the government-issued identification, I always find this American reticence to have a national ID system quite weird.

    1. As someone who does this level of tech support for another company, IF you elect to send a color copy of your government issued ID, DO NOT edit the image. My employer will not accept an edited image, and I’d expect the same elsewhere. An image of just the front of the card should be more than sufficient.

      But without you personally walking into the Instagram home office and complaining, a color copy of your ID is what will need to be given.

      Whether you trust the account reps at Instagram or the “dirty dirty girl” that we call the Internet is a whole other matter entirely.

      Now if you will excuse me I have some Table Top to catch up on. 😀

  5. Is it bad that in my head the line right after “That’s not me on Instagram” was “That’s me in the spotlight, losing my religion.”?

  6. What would you recommend they use for verification instead? Your public identity doesn’t need a drivers license to authenticate, but what about a teen girl bullying a classmate by fraudulently reporting the classmate’s Instagram?

    I’m not being snarky. I understand why you won’t send the ID. But what would you advise Instagram to use instead? (How does Twitter give famous users those little blue checkmarks?)

  7. Even though it’s a complete waste of time you could get a Lead Abatement certification from the EPA. They issue an identification card for that.

  8. My grandma used to blame all the bad stuff she did on her “evil twin”. So there you go. Now you actually HAVE an evil twin. (she didn’t)

    1. Look, Wil, I think it’s easy. Politely ask your followers to “kindly tell Instagram” that that is not you. I’m sure that your real power is not in your wits or your strength. Your real might resides on sheer numbers. And the fact that you have thousands of loyal followers who might just think “This annoys Wil and I can do something abut it”. It will take you about five minutes. I think it’s worth a try.

  9. Maybe you could get today’s newspaper and use a marker to circle the date & write a message to Instagram – then take a typical “proof of life” picture. This should be sufficient!

  10. Here’s another vote for sending your United Federation of Planets ID. They didn’t specify which government, after all.

  11. Basically the same thing happened to me and Instagram required me impossible stuff (like the date of the subscription to that account)…!! I’m so sorry to read it.

  12. I find it weird that they make you prove your identity to get this faker’s site taken down.

    1. I’m sure that if there was a “Wil Wheaton(tm)” brand they wouldn’t require even a shred of evidence for takedown requests.

      It’s kind of odd (and frightening) that as an individual we have less rights than corporations on the web.
      Just try and see what happens if you impersonate a famous brand.
      I doubt that they would have to provide actual proof to get the ‘offending’ site taken down.

  13. Is it really that hard to take a cellphone picture of your driver’s license and email it? Would take like 60 seconds at most. Your call of course, but you probably spent more time typing this post than it would have taken to get the Instagram taken down.

    1. The problem isn’t the difficulty – it’s the risk of ID theft, even more impersonation, or just taking said ID and posting it somewhere to make it public where the risk of abuse increases exponentially.

        1. Greatly exaggerating? I’m a nobody who barely scrapes by, and I’ve had my identity stolen. If they’d be willing to come after me, how much more would they be willing to go after someone like Wil who makes probably 20x what I do? It’s not paranoia when you know it’s already happened.

  14. Embarrassing, I had thought you’d re-posted one of my #photoshopwilwheaton images. Oh well. Something similar happened to one of my friends, some chick out there is pretending to be her on FB but she’s not a celebrity so it’s even more creepy. FB won’t intervene for her either.

    1. wheatonwil on IG. It’s set to private now, but you can still report without giving a follow.

  15. To be fair, I had to give Blizzard a copy of my driver’s license to get my account straightened out when my daughter kifed my authenticator. I didn’t think they did anything with it except what they needed to do. I felt as though they were keeping the integrity of my account at heart. Kind of like the dude at the grocery store who asks for my ID. It’s just to protect my identity.

  16. Why should you have the god-given right to have social media accounts disabled without proving who you are? Because you see your self as some kind of celebrity? How should Instagram know that you’re you and not that other account, just take your word for it I guess. Maybe I’ll go around claiming the rest of your social media account are fake and I’m the real Will Wheaton. If they ask for ID, I’ll just give them the middle finger, that should work right?

    1. This comment is the funniest thing I’ve read all day. I know it shouldn’t be, because internet trolls who can’t spell things properly even when the correct spelling is right in front of their face are a dime a dozen, but I still laughed and laughed at the thought of a troll working for hours to try to get into Will Wheaton’s Facebook, and then wondering when he moved to Minnesota and started working at Target, and why he doesn’t mention anything about his acting career…

  17. So I know this isn’t the point of your post, but your use of he/she/it is not super cool. I know it was probably an oversight, but it did imply that anyone who doesn’t use she/her or he/him pronouns is not a person, and I’m sure you know that’s not true. Sorry about your Instagram troubles!

    1. Erica, Wil didn’t imply anything of the sort. He just used “he/she/it” because he didn’t know what gender to use. I think he’s justified in calling this person “it” when this person is impersonating him without his permission. While I support non-cis-gendered persons and their right to use pronouns that they’re comfortable with, I think you’re over-reacting.

  18. Wil,
    How long have you had this identity crisis? If they’re not you, that who are they? Or for that matter you?
    Kirk Spock, Picard or even the HAL 2000 never had problems like this. However, I think people know you well enough to parse what is from you and what isn’t.
    Have a great weekend anyway.

    1. Well, Spock did famously have an evil twin.

      And more relevant, both Kirk and Picard had actual imposters.

      Picard has an alien imposter in TNG episode “Allegiance”, who attempted to fool the rest of the crew it was really Picard (had his memories and everything, but personality was different so they figured it out).

      Kirk was split by transporter malfunction into Good Kirk and Evil Kirk in “The Enemy Within”, but it was a bit different from Evil Spock (Goatee Spock) since Evil Kirk attempted to impersonate Good Kirk.


  19. Well, think about it, Wil. If they didn’t require some form of verification of who you were, anybody could have any Instagram account taken down. And you know the subhumans on 4chan and Reddit would make a game of it

    1. Maybe they should require the person who’s impersonating Wil provide proof of identity. They’re claiming to be someone they’re not, so make them prove who they are. Then the (alleged) impersonator is putting their identity document at risk.

  20. There are many ways he could prove identification without having to give up a copy of his driver’s license. It would seem reasonable for Instagram to have multiple ways to make this work.

  21. Keep in mind that the dude in the grocery store, unless he has eidetic memory, won’t retain your personal details. Sending a copy of your ID means strangers now have a permanent copy of your personal identification.

    I agree with the others – a letter from his attorney should do the trick, if Wil doesn’t want to send a censored copy of his ID.

  22. Given that you own the copyright to your twitter avatar, or have an exclusive license to redistribute it from the person who does own the copyright, and someone else has uploaded it and caused it to be redistributed without permission, that’s clear-cut copyright infringement. It might be worth looking into the possibility of issuing a DMCA takedown notice on all the posts that use it.

    (IANAL and TINLA)

  23. When my wow account got hacked (dont judge), they required a scanned photo ID, and a utility bill that matched the address of one of the cards on file. At least when i got it back, the gold spammers had bought me pandaria, which i never played. but apparently instagram thinks you are less valuable than a wow character, which is a whole new level of sadness

  24. What’s so wrong about proving who you are?

    You’ve made the big time – you’re being impersonated on the internet! You could do a bit of it on your show!

  25. Everyone thought the Singularity would be all about nuclear weapons, drones, and bio warfare.

    Turns out its first act is to impersonate Wil Wheaton on Instagram. Who knew?

  26. Seriously, who has the time to do shit like that, impersonate someone on a social media site…. Good Lord, I barely have time after working to do family stuff, house stuff, Game (as much as I’d like too), keep up with life and fun stuff…
    These people need their extra time taken away from them.
    And they’re being dicks.

  27. Why didn’t they just ask for a notarized letter? That should be a standard practice. SMH.

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