Action is having to be taken by the Home Office to ensure a fake internet page created by a Norfolk teenager is removed fully.

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Fake Facebook accounts

The recent court case centred around the fake Facebook accounts of Salhouse teenager Thomas Utting are a stark reminder of what is clearly a growing online problem.

During the case Jonathan Goodman, in mitigation, cited figures that were released by social networking site Facebook at the start of August that revealed it believes it has more than 83 million illegitimate profiles worldwide.

This equates to 8.7pc of its 955m active accounts breaking its rules.

Facebook defines duplicates as “an account that a user maintains in addition to his or her principal account”.

Duplicate profiles - belonging to already registered users - made up 4.8pc of its membership, while ‘user-misclassified’ accounts amounted to 2.4pc, including personal profiles for businesses or pets, and 1.5pc of users were described as “undesirable”.

It is a reminder that all internet users, particularly vulnerable users, must be taught how to use the internet safely and reminded that not everything on the internet is necessarily true.

As reported in the Evening News last month, 18-year-old Thomas Utting, of Otter Close, Salhouse, was ordered to complete 80 hours of unpaid work after admitting to creating an online alter-ego as a photographer named Josh Reinwood. Utting admitted to one charge of fraud and four charges of making indecent photos of children under 16. It emerged that he had used a faked Facebook profile for his alter-ego to get girls to send him photos of themselves.

When being sentenced at Norwich Crown Court on Thursday, September 20, Utting was also given a 12-month community supervision order. However, a profile for the fake Josh Reinwood Photography alter-ego is still appearing on the American-owned website Model Mayhem.

Comments from models, mainly teenage girls, include ‘love the photos’ and ‘fantastic portfolio....would love to work together’.

The page is inactive but has not yet been removed and includes an email address to contact the fictional photographer.

However a Norfolk Constabulary spokesman has confirmed that the Home Office is working on getting the profile page removed. During the court case Jonathan Goodman, in mitigation, had said that Utting had been “very naive” and that the alter-ego had been a release from bullying in the real world.

There is no implication that Utting is still involved with the web page and the faked Facebook profiles have been successfully shut down by the police.

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