Californians: Delete Your Fake ‘Governator’ Facebook Profiles Now

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REUTERS/Thierry Roge

And not just because he’s no longer governor. California has just made it harder to pretend to be someone you’re not — at least on the Internet.

SB 1411, which former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law back in September, prohibits people from impersonating other individuals online, meaning you can’t have a Facebook profile saying you’re Arnold Schwarzenegger. Free speech issues abruptly came up over expression on the Web, but the new law tries to address that by specifying a perpetrator’s intent must be “to devise or execute any scheme or artifice to defraud, deceive, or extort, or wrongfully control or obtain money, property, or data,” according to the statute’s language.

Parody and satire are not expressly addressed, but the intent was to focus on cyberbullying on social networking sites.  “What people thought was just a prank is now a violation of law,” State Sen. Joe Simitian, who introduced the bill, told the San Francisco Examiner. “I hope this is the first step in changing behavior.”