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Denizens of the internet who create fake profiles could now face criminal charges with stiff penalties.

Using a social media account under a name other than your own to harass or bully others is now a criminal offense according to the Crown Prosecution Service in the UK.

The new rules state permit the prosecution of persons who create a profile “under the name of the victim with fake information uploaded which, if believed, could damage their reputation and humiliate them.”

“In some cases the information could then be shared in such a way that it appears as though the victim has themselves made the statements.”

Officials called the new rules a response to the changing nature of online crime.

“It is vital that prosecutors consider the bigger picture when looking at evidence and examine both the online and offline behaviour pattern of the defendant,” director of public prosecutions Alison Saunders said.

“Online abuse is cowardly and can be deeply upsetting to the victim.”

Saunders said that offenders “mistakenly think that by using false online profiles and creating websites under a false name their offences are untraceable”, but that police can use techniques to catch the offender.

Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook already have procedures in place to report impersonation accounts and work with law enforcement to track down the offender.

While parody, commentary, or fan accounts are allowed on social networks, the major networks all forbid “imposter accounts” in their respective Terms of Service.

CPS is launching a six-week public comment period on the proposed revisions to the prosecution guidelines.