TECHNOLOGY

A case of mistaken identity leads to online death threats for Utah woman

Aug 21, 2020, 10:39 AM | Updated: 10:39 am
A Utah woman is mistaken for another Natalie Palmer on social media. Photo courtesy KSL-TV.

PROVO, Utah — Many of us have profiles on social media and don’t think much of it, but what happens when you have the same name as a person doing something controversial or maybe illegal, and the death threats start pouring in from all over?

This has happened to one Utah woman. 

Natalie Palmer has the same name as another Natalie Palmer, who may be pictured on Facebook hunting animals. This has drawn the ire of some on Facebook. They are insisting the Natalie from Utah is the hunter and the death threats have started pouring in on Facebook.

Palmer talked to KSL-TV, allowing the station to see some of the threats coming in. 

One person asked, “Are you the woman that murdered the wolves?” 

“You’re just sick!” said another. “Just know hell is very real and you’re going there!”

“You are going to die screaming!” read a disturbing threat.

Another disturbing declaration said, “Looking for you.”

“She’s telling me I need to take this very seriously,” said Palmer, reading another message. “’Otherwise others may really take grave action toward your life.’”

Why the threats against a Utah woman?

Users apparently mistook Palmer for another Natalie Palmer, reportedly pictured in the back of a truck with wolves, implying she had hunted and killed them. 

The Palmer in the pictures is apparently the daughter of dentist Walter Palmer, who killed Cecil the Lion, an internationally controversial action. Cecil was killed in Zimbabwe in 2015. The Zimbabwe government did not pursue charges.

Investigating who was actually in the photo

KSL did attempt to talk to Walter Palmer’s daughter to get a comment from her, but they were not able to reach her. The man who answered the phone had no comment, other than to refer KSL to an article written by fact-checking site Snopes

The article stated that there was no evidence the woman featured in the photo was Walter Palmer’s daughter. Their conclusion was the photo had been posted to start controversy. 

Back to Natalie in Utah

Palmer is an author of young adult novels, and says she has never hunted and respects animal rights. Palmer adds that the attempts to convince commenters the pictured woman is not her has been largely futile. 

“Not in a million years would I have ever thought I’d be accused worldwide,” she said, noting lingering concerns about her safety and the safety of her family. “You just don’t know how serious it is, how far people will go, I guess.”

Palmer said that this situation has left her very upset, but she has yet to report the incidents to authorities. 

What do police recommend? 

Police say if you are threatened online, you should report those threats to police. It’s not always easy to track down the perpetrators as people often use bogus accounts to make such threats, but police still want to know, both to have a record of the threats and in case they can catch the perpetrator. 

As for Palmer, she encourages people to not believe everything you read. She knows first hand how it feels to be mistaken for someone else. She encourages people to be kinder and give the benefit of the doubt when uncertain.

“There are better ways to get our thoughts and opinions across,” Palmer said.

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A case of mistaken identity leads to online death threats for Utah woman