Virtual Fiancé?


“Okay Nina, you know you can have your Facebook account, but you have to give me your login and password because I want to be able to have access and check that nobody takes advantage of you.”

Jean was talking to his fifteen-year-old daughter, Nina who, like all her peers, believed it was essential to have at least one social account.

“But Daddy I’m embarrassed, I don’t want you to come in and read my chats!”

“Believe me Nina I don’t want to read your chats either! It embarrasses me as much as it embarrasses you! But I have to be able to protect you if necessary, it’s full of dangerous people out there, they may pretend to be someone else and then take advantage of you!”

“Mhhh… but you have to promise me not to go read my things and to access only in my presence!”

“But this is not possible! It may be necessary for me to log in when you are away!”

“Then no deal!”

“Then no social!”

A few hours and many negotiations later Jean and Nina finally reached an agreement. Now they were together in front of the computer, the girl typed in her email, password, and entered Taylor Swift’s profile.

“Ah, is this the name you use on Facebook?”

“Of course, Daddy, do you think I would use my real name? It’s lame!”

Jean took a quick look at her friends: Shawn Mendes, John Holland, Crystal Cyrus, Perrie Edwards, Selena Gomez… Jean was not very familiar with the teen idols scene but he recognized some names and he was beginning to understand, especially from the photos that Nina published: that girl was certainly not her.

Suddenly “Ding!” A notification and the chat window appeared at the bottom of the page: Justin Bieber. Nina blushed: “Daddy, just go away now.”

“No wait, I want to see more!”

“No dad, leave me alone, I have to chat with Justin, come on! If I don’t answer right away, maybe he’ll leave the chat!”

“And who is this Justin?”

“He is my fiancé! But don’t worry! We’ve never met! He’s my virtual boyfriend, see? Each of us has a fake identity, we are who we would like to be, I want to be Taylor Swift and now I am engaged to Justin Bieber. Come on, he promised to take me shopping today, leave me alone!”

Not convinced at all, Jean left the room to leave his daughter to her privacy, but promised himself to better understand this story of the fake profiles… it sounded really bad. Who was really behind that virtual little friend?

Nina, together with many boys and girls of her age, had created a world of parallel identities on Facebook. A game where they had built their reality: they got engaged, married, have jobs, go to dinner together or to the cinema or go shopping but always inside the social network. It was a real world simulation game where the girl from the suburb could imagine herself as a rich heiress hanging out with the most famous stars of the moment.

Nina, alias Taylor Swift, had been engaged for a few weeks with Justin Bieber. They chatted for hours telling each other about their imaginary days and planning their life, they had decided to go to live together in his loft in London; he had given her an engagement ring that stood out gloriously in her timeline enriched by many likes and hearts. Not to mention the complimentary comments from their entire network of rich and famous friends.

Jean was struggling to understand, he had talked about it with Nina’s mother: “Be cool Jean,” she said, “It’s just a game between kids… and anyway… what is all this caring now? You even don’t live with us!” So according to Martha Nina wasn’t in danger at all, however Jean could not relax but he had promised Nina not to read her chat…

One day while picking up Ruth, the youngest daughter, to bring her to skate class, Jean met Nina who was running out, on her lips a shadow of lipstick, make up on her eyes…

“Hey, how come the hurry! Where are you going, girl?”

“I have a date, Justin and I finally decided to meet, I’m late, I’m late!!” The girl shouted disappearing down the stairs. Jean gaped at Martha who was waiting for him in the doorway with little Ruth.

“But what…” Jean said in amazement, “but do you let her go out with someone she only met on Facebook? Are you crazy? What if he is an adult man? A maniac? A rapist? A pedophile?”

“You worry too much Jean. Listen, I trust our daughter, she’s not clueless, I told her to meet him in a public place and to leave and call us if she feels uncomfortable, however at 8pm she will be home again.”

“Okay, okay… but at eight o’clock, as soon as she comes home, she must call me otherwise I’ll go looking for her! I will enter her profile and read the chat with this pervert and go looking for her!”

It seemed like endless hours but at 8pm in the evening the phone finally rang: “Hi dad,”

“Nina! Everything good? Are you OK?”

“Sure dad… mom says I had to call you…”

“Did this Justin Bieber do well? What did he do to you? What happened?”

“Nothing dad, we went to eat ice cream, we chatted a lot, Louise is toooo nice!”


“Yes, Louise, she is Justin Bieber, look dad, we get along really well! She is in third high school, like me, but she lives in Southend, she is she’s really nice, we have the same tastes in everything, she says that at school she doesn’t have many friends because they tease her because she dresses like a boy, even if she doesn’t like males at all, but she has the same hair as Justin Bieber, exactly! Next week we will go to the cinema to see the film about Justin…” Nina was a flow of words, she couldn’t stop talking about her new friend…

Louise, 16 years old…

“How beautiful are these kids,” Jean thought. And he felt a little proud… that daughter of him was just growing up well.


Nina and her friends invent a way to play on Facebook without necessarily having to submit to its identity rules. They take advantage of the filter bubble to create a virtual world inside which to play roles and invent games that are not gamified.

Since the eighties of the twentieth century there have been numerous platforms that allow role-playing in virtual worlds. Some of these platforms, as for example the legendary LambdaMoo, are in text-only format. Others, such as the even more famous Second Life, are graphic. These are parallel worlds built by the users themselves.

In the Zero and Ten years of the new millennium, the habit of using platforms of this type was increasingly lost to flow onto gamified platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok where the experience is already designed by the platform developers.

In this beautiful story, our young friends have sought a way to bend a proprietary platform to their imagination.

The Social Media Manager Says…

It is increasingly difficult to have a fake identity on Facebook which, often upon reporting by other users, asks for an identity document to verify that the name we use on the social network corresponds to our personal name.

Legally speaking, Facebook has no right to ask for documents and in fact takes care to say that we can safely delete sensitive data from the document before sending it to the staff.

In the FAQ, the Facebook team also explains that in case of need to remain anonymous (in case of being persecuted by someone reported as a stalker, or in similar situations of risk for personal safety) it will be possible to use a nickname instead of your personal name, which will still be communicated to the staff.

The Hacker Says…

You can edit your ID using a graphics program, such as free GIMP software for Linux. Since Facebook does not have the right to ask us for documents and we do not have to send sensitive data, we can safely obscure the identity card number, the photo, the date of birth, the municipality of residence, and change our name and surname as we wish since at this point it will not even be an official document anymore!

Be careful, however, because the Facebook team used to validate names could arbitrarily decide not to trust you and suspend your account indefinitely.

Look at the Moon, Not the Finger

Jean and Martha trust their daughter. They know that the world is full of dangers but they also know that bans are likely to be counterproductive.

They decided that the only way to deal with unknown dangers is to turn them into assessable risks. So they try to build a relationship of mutual trust, which guarantees spaces of freedom necessary for the formation of an adequate world experience.