Support for Impersonation

  1. Catalogue
  2. Helplines
  3. Professionals Online Safety Helpline
  4. Impersonation Guidance

At the Professionals Online Safety Helpline, we have been seeing a huge increase of professionals, especially teachers, being impersonated on social media platforms, often by students. We’ve put together some guidance about what we can do to support schools and professionals being affected by impersonation.

What is Impersonation?

Impersonation often happens in the form of a fake account being set up by students or people in the wider community, usually to mock a teacher or someone in the school community. Being impersonated can often be very distressing and can pose significant safeguarding concerns.

Responding to Impersonation Accounts

It is important to make sure that the situation is handled correctly when dealing with an impersonation account. In most instances, the Designated Safeguarding Lead or equivalent should be involved to decide the correct course of action based on school policies and guidance.

In serious cases of impersonation, such as if an account was impersonating a teacher and sending students inappropriate messages, then the police may need to be involved. In this instance, no action should be taken without police involvement, to avoid interfering with any potential evidence.

Reporting Impersonation Accounts

Whilst the helpline will try to help however it can to support people reporting impersonation accounts, the individual being impersonated often needs to make the report directly to the social media platform involved.

Social media platforms will usually need to verify whether the account is real or an impersonation, so they can avoid removing someone’s genuine account. To help verify impersonation claims, social media platforms may ask to see your ID and collect further information.

Making a Report

Making an impersonation report can vary depending on which social media platform you need to make a report to. We’ve brought together various reporting avenues for the most common social media platforms we see being used to create impersonation accounts. The reporting process can vary depending on whether you have an account with the platform or not, and we provided information for each instance.  

Updating your Privacy Settings

It can be hard to prevent someone from creating an impersonation account, however, there are measures you can put in place to make sure your account privacy settings are up to date to make it harder for anyone attempting to impersonate you.

To keep your profiles safe online, you can download our free social media checklists from our website, which can help teachers and young people stay in control of their privacy settings across platforms such as TikTok, Snapchat, Facebook, and more.