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Instagram impersonation: Maine mom seeks action after fake account targets daughter

Screenshot of Instagram account (WGME)
Screenshot of Instagram account (WGME)
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RUMFORD (WGME) -- Cyberbullying continues to evolve in the age of social media and for one local parent, it hit home recently, after she says her daughter became a victim.

"It's just really disturbing," parent Janet Currie said. "You're just left helpless. It's out of your hands."

It started last month, when she says a fake account popped up on Instagram. The profile was nearly identical to her daughter's account, except for one small change to the username.

"It uses her picture and it uses her name," Currie said. "Then it also says that it has exclusive content for people, for a select few."

That was Currie's biggest concern, that the person who created the account was trying to make it seem like her underage daughter was selling inappropriate content online.

"This person is following all friends and family members of my daughter," Currie said. "I don't know what's being sent to these people who my daughter knows and faces every day."

She believes a fellow classmate of her daughter at Mountain Valley High School may be responsible. Currie says she reported the incident to the school, which says it is investigating.

Currie also reported the fake account to Instagram multiple times since it was first put up. In a message to her, Instagram wrote: "Due to the high volume of reports we receive, our review team hasn't been able to view your report. However, our technology has found that this account likely doesn't go against our Community Guidelines."

"Every day, it's the first thing I do when I get up in the morning is look to see if it's down yet," Currie said.

The CBS13 I-Team sent multiple emails to Instagram's parent company Meta to find out why an account that's impersonating someone else doesn't violate its rules. We've yet to get a response, but Instagram's own Community Guidelines tells users: "Don't impersonate others and don't create accounts for the purpose of violating our guidelines or misleading others."

"Unfortunately, social media has the ability to, very quickly and to a lot of people, send information that you don't want out there," University of Southern Maine Assistant Professor of Technology and Cybersecurity Dr. Lori Sussman said.

Sussman says cyberbullying remains a big issue on social media because many users don't fear accountability.

Reporter Dan Lampariello: "If there's a continued lack of accountability on these platforms, do you believe we'll see more of this?"
Sussman: "We've already seen a lot of it, and I know that the Federal Trade Commission is really cracking down on these kinds of platforms, requiring them to be more socially responsible."

For parents like Currie, she fears if more action isn't taken, children like her daughter will continue to become victims.

"If it's happening in this tiny little town in the middle of nowhere, how many other thousands of kids is this happening to and why isn't something being done?" Currie said.

While Currie did report the fake account to her daughter's school, in many cases it's difficult for district to take action. A recent survey from the National School Public Relations Association found 45 percent of educational organizations have dealt with social media platforms not removing reported accounts and posts that harass, intimidate or bully their students.

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If you're concerned that your child may be being bullied, you can find information on how to report incidents and prevention resources HERE.

Have something you want the CBS13 I-Team to investigate? Call their tip line at (207) 228-7713 or send them an email to

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