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There are many fake social media post generators out there, so that you can generate a fake twitter tweet or a fake whatsapp message and so on.

See e.g. this: http://simitator.com/generator/twitter/tweet

Is it legal to use these fake posts and present them as genuine?

For example, here's a possible use I had in mind: say I read a tweet some time ago, and I would like to present it in a blog post of mine. If I am unable to find the tweet, I can simply paraphrase the content of the tweet inside a 'fake tweet' like above and present that.

Would that be legal? I am of course being dishonest to my own readers, but I'm guessing while unethical, that can't be illegal. The problem is whether Twitter would allow me to present made-up content as if it was posted on their site?

For my specific case, I don't think they would mind, but it may be illegal if e.g. I could use these fake posts to present an image of Twitter that they might have something against, and so a rule may exist against it just in case?

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    Just to be clear, this isn't "fake" in the sense of a sock-puppet account, its fake as in a generated image which looks like it was a screenshot from Twitter or Facebook, but isn't. – Paul Johnson Apr 24 at 13:35
  • Here is a real world example: the Led By Donkeys billboard campaign against Brexit. Along with real tweets the billboards also show mock-ups of things people have said in speeches or elsewhere other than Twitter as if they had been tweeted. The Twitter logo does not appear but the aesthetics are very similar to Twitter: theguardian.com/politics/2019/jan/16/… – Lag Apr 24 at 15:42
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A fake post in the sense of one that appears to be a Twitter or Facebook post (or a post on some other well-known social media site) but is in fact nothing of the sort, might be an infringement of trademark rights. Presumably such amn imitation would display the logo and other trademarks of the site being imitated, without permission, and in a way likely to confuse readers about the origin and affiliation of the display. Whether this would be considered to be "used in trade" or would be otherwise subject to a suit for trademark infringement is hard to say.

A fake post in the sense of one actually posted to a social media site, but under an assumed name, possibly under a name that seems to be associated with a real person, but in fact is not so associated, probably violates the sites TOS. That would be a breech of contract, but such breeches are, I understand, rarely pursued in the form of actual lawsuits.

If a fake post in either sense uses the name or likeness of a real person without permission, that might violate the personality rights of the person imitated. Such rights vary considerably by jurisdiction. In some jurisdictions they apply only to the use in marketing. In some jurisdictions no such rights are recognized. If a fake post attributes to a real person statements which that person did not in fact make, and if those statements are offensive, or harm the person's reputation, there might be a case for defamation. If a fake post reveals, or purports to reveal, private information about a real purpose, in some jurisdictions there might be a tort case for invasion of privacy.

If a fake post attempts to deceive people to the materiel benefit of the poster, there might be a case for fraud.

If the fake post serves to advertise some product or service, and if the false name conceals that it was made by or on behalf of the seller or maker of the product or service, or falsely appears to be from some reliable source, such as an expert or a celebrity, then under US law that might be an unfair trade practice. The US FTC can take action in cases of unfair trade practices, if it sees fit.

In the US at least, simply posting under a false name is not a crime, and indeed may well be protected speech under the first Amendment to the US Federal Constitution. See this question and its answer for more details.

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It is against the Twitter Terms of Service. It could be deemed illegal, depending on the phrasing of the emulated tweet, because you would be attributing something to a person that the person did not say.

That isn't to say it would be illegal in all forms, if the paraphrasing did not change the tweet into something that defames, you might be OK in some circumstances, but the person could take action against you for attributing things to him he did not say.

  • In what jurisdiction, and under what law there, or on what basis, could "the person could take action against you for attributing things to him he did not say." when no defamatory statements are made? If this is true in multiple jurisdictions, a cite for just one of them will do. Or do you mean that action could be taken only if the false attribution is defamatory? – David Siegel Apr 24 at 19:30
  • Obviously yes I meant if it is defamatory. – Putvi Apr 24 at 19:36
  • Then I misread your comment, sorry. Obviously falsely attributing something to a real person could well be defamatory, depending on the content. I misunderstood your comment to say that a false quote might be actionable, even if not defamatory, in some places. – David Siegel Apr 24 at 20:17
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Unethical - yes. Illegal - no.

It's actually more legal than posting genuine social media posts because of copyright and privacy issues.

It could be illegal, if they would use actual user names and profile pictures and then would fake the post itself.

  • Under what law would it be illegal to "use actual user names and profile pictures" in a fake post? – David Siegel Apr 24 at 15:12
  • @DavidSiegel In what jurisdiction? – Smart455 Apr 24 at 15:16
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    In what jurisdiction are you asserting in your answer that it would be illegal? Can you cite any law, in any jurisdiction, that makes such a thing illegal? I'd be particularly interested in a US law to that effect, but the answer says: "It would be illegal, if they would use actual user names and profile pictures". Please support that statement with a source, and indicate to what jurisdiction(s) it applies. I rather doubt that such action is illegal in most places. – David Siegel Apr 24 at 15:27
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    Your answer makes a general statement, that specific conduct is (now could be) illegal. I am asking you to support that with a source, and if it is true only in specific jurisdictions, to say so in the answer. Simply displaying soemone's picture or name is not slander or libel in any country that I know of. If it is somewhere, that would be interesting. Please provide some source for your statements. – David Siegel Apr 24 at 15:47
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    Not being a lawyer, I don't have clients in that sense. Since you won't support your answer, I am reluctantly downvoting it. and inviting others to do likewise. No need for further discussion. – David Siegel Apr 24 at 16:25

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