Updated Thursday, 1:00 p.m. ET:
The Vincent Gallo imposter Facebook page is no longer active. A Facebook spokeswoman confirmed with IBT Thursday that the company removed it.
Vincent Gallo has had enough of Vincent Gallo. Not the actual Vincent Gallo, he claims, but a rogue digital doppelganger who has been impersonating him on Facebook. A profile using the name and likeness of the notably eccentric and often media-shy filmmaker has been online since at least January.
From the profile, an anonymous Facebook user (or users) allegedly posts updates as Gallo, uploads photos of Gallo and is even Facebook friends with some of Gallo’s real-life friends. And yet nowhere does the profile indicate that it is the work of a parodist or a fan site.
Now the real Vincent Gallo, the one behind such indie films as “Buffalo ’66” and “The Brown Bunny,” is suing Facebook Inc. in federal court. While that might seem a drastic move, Gallo claims he had no other option. The lawsuit alleges that he has tried in earnest to force Facebook to remove the faux profile, but the social media giant has not honored his request — even, Gallo claims, after he provided a scanned copy of his driver’s license to prove his identity.
“He tried to resolve it by going through Facebook’s normal channels,” Joe Costa, a lawyer in Los Angeles who represents Gallo, told International Business Times. “They took no action on it. They’re not really leaving him with any choice.”
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Impersonating another person is a violation of the site’s terms of service, but the company typically relies on users to self-police the vast social network and report bad behavior.
Costa said he was unsure how long the rogue Facebook user has been allegedly posting without Gallo’s permission, but he said the profile is slick enough that it has been able to fool people, some of whom Gallo knows personally, into believing the profile is authentic, at least for long enough that they would become Facebook friends with the phony Gallo.
“When people would confront him about the fact that it’s a fake account, he would threaten to defriend them,” Costa said.
According to the lawsuit, the phony profile has used Gallo’s identity to flirt with women online, engage in sexual conversations and even lure women to meet in person. In one case, the user even made contact with one of Gallo’s ex-girlfriends, an internationally known model, the lawsuit asserts. In that situation, the phony Gallo allegedly sent nude pictures from the waist down and convinced Gallo’s ex to send nude pictures back.
That Gallo would have his share of adversaries is hardly surprising. The indie filmmaker is known for public dustups with actors and critics, notably trading barbs with Roger Ebert after the famed critic walked out of an early screening of “The Brown Bunny” in 2003. (Ebert later claimed to like a newer cut of the film.) The arthouse drama is notorious for an explicit sex scene, and the lawsuit cites reactions to the film as one of the reasons Gallo has limited his exposure to the press.
“Over the course of Mr. Gallo’s artistic career, he has been extremely guarded and calculated as to his exposure with the media,” the lawsuit states. “In fact, he has intentionally never had any sort of social media account, as Mr. Gallo goes through great measures to control and protect many private aspects of his life.”
Lawyers for Gallo are seeking an injunction to prevent Facebook from further hosting the account, in addition to damages to be determined at trial.