We are well into the first season of Sullivan & Son on TBS. The August 23, 2012 episode of “The Fifth Musketeer” allows us to examine the increasingly complex world of fake dating profiles. In the episode, Steve’s Korean-born mother creates a fake online dating profile for Steve with the hope that Steve meets a nice girl of Korean ancestry. Steve’s fake profile proves to be fairly successful, thus prompting his friends at the bar to get involved in online dating. Steve’s friends discover an attractive bachelor on one dating site who has a lot of success on the online dating scene. Inspired by the bachelor’s success, Steve’s friends create a fake profile of an attractive woman to contact the bachelor and learn his secrets. Later, the bachelor shows up at Steve’s bar in order to meet the fake person in the account. Steve’s friends then reveal their plan to the bachelor, and they all become friends. Later in the episode, Steve’s mom creates a second fake profile for Steve on a Jewish dating site so that he can meet nice Jewish women.

The use of fake dating profiles has been a thorny legal issue in recent years. Indeed, the use of fake profiles triggers myriad concerns over identity theft and right of publicity. In 2011, for example, a class action lawsuit was filed against Match.com alleging that the presence of fake profiles constituted a breach of contract, misrepresentation, and not dealing in good faith. This week’s episode of Sullivan & Son certainly highlights the argument in favor of extending tort law liability for using another person’s name or likeness for either misappropriation of name or likeness or a violation of right of publicity. Although the episode specifically involved the creation of fake profiles for humorous and entertaining purposes, it is easy to imagine an alternative scenario whereby fake profiles are detrimental both personally and economically. For instance, suppose the bachelor showed up to Steve’s bar and became irate when he discovered that he was misled by a fake account. In this hypothetical scenario, the bachelor knows who created the fake dating profile and he also knows that he was deliberately misled. Some states have passed laws in recent years to combat fake profiles used to maliciously hurt people.

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