This story is interesting for a few reasons. It raises the question about plain old names. I think this is going to become more and more of an issue with google ranks and potentially other social networks mattering so much. More commentary on a tangent below.
A Porn Star Stole My Name:Texas woman claims old teen pal hijacked her moniker for stage name
JULY 3–Lara Madden is a 25-year-old porn movie actress who uses the stage name Syvette Wimberly when starring in films like “Anal Camera 19.” While Madden’s professional alias is catchy and distinctive, the name is identical to that of a former Texas high school pal of the X-rated performer. As a result, Kristen Syvette Wimberly, 25, has filed a lawsuit against Madden and the porn distributor Vivid Entertainment for the misappropriation of her name. In a June 26 complaint filed in Harris County District Court, Wimberly notes that she and Madden became friends after meeting at the beginning of ninth grade in Kingwood, Texas. That friendship, however, “ended due to conflict,” according to the lawsuit, a copy of which you’ll find below. The complaint adds that Madden (who is pictured at right) married while in high school and did not graduate with Wimberly, who lost contact with her former friend. Until recently, that is, when Wimberly discovered that, “there was a woman appearing in multiple explicit pornographic videos” using her name. Wimberly soon learned, the lawsuit reports, that the porn actress who boosted her name “was her former high school friend Lara Madden.” The porn star, Wimberly alleges, deliberately chose to use her name, despite realizing that it would cause “extreme embarrassment and unsubstantiated association with the pornography industry and other consequences.” Wimberly claims that Madden’s actions have caused her emotional distress and mental anguish, for which she is seeking monetary damages. Wimberly also wants a permanent injunction barring Madden and Vivid from continuing the use of her name. In a TSG interview, Madden acknowledged appropriating Wimberly’s name because she thought it was “really cool.” Madden, who said that her first name is actually Laura, denied ever being friends with Wimberly and said that she did not marry in high school. She added that her porn career ended in 2005 after she appeared in 13 films. (6 pages)
What if someone where to pretend to be ‘me’ in a social network and accumulate ‘my’ friends. I am sure this is happening somewhere to some people. The thing is that it becomes obvious you are not actually connected to the real person when you send the ‘fake person’ a virtual good. Then you run into them at a physical event and ask them about getting it. Well if they didn’t get the item you know you are not actually connected to them. I never link to people I don’t know in social networks (I have about 15 “friend requests” in facebook that are from this category of people). It is as some geeks in my network have talked about – what your PGP signing policy matterrs – is is based on knowing the person over time or just because you saw their easily faked ‘government documents’ and have no idea who they are because you have never interacted with them. These sorts of social norms.