By Danny Brown
Perhaps it’s a sign that the site is reaching more mainstream popularity levels, but Twitter is fast becoming a haven for spammers. Accounts include semi-naked girls with just one link to an affiliate site to brands that use the service for nothing more sending direct messages to other users with a sales link.
Now it seems that the “power players” of Twitter are being targeted—yet it’s not directly at them. Rather, it’s using them instead.
This latest trick sees users that have a certain authority on Twitter—i.e., thousands of followers—be the lucky target of a fake account with their details. Their image and name is used to trick unsuspecting users into thinking it’s the real person. Normally it’s a play on the person’s name—underscores, dashes, numbers, etc.
While these fakes are easy to spot if you know of the person in question, it’s a different matter if you’re either a new Twitter user or someone who doesn’t know Lee Odden, Chris Brogan or Andy Beal. These are the types of users that the scammers are targeting.
It’s also a major pain for the user whose name is used in this way—their reputation can be tarnished, for one thing. So what’s the answer?
- As a Twitter user, it may be an idea to mention in your profile that this is your only Twitter account—all others are fake.
- As soon as you see a spam or obviously fake account, report it to Twitter by sending a message to their spam team.
- Block the fake account—don’t let their numbers grow any further.
While imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, downright identity theft is illegal. You can report suspected spammers to Twitter, but perhaps Twitter should start identifying these fake accounts to the targeted people and bring charges against them? It wouldn’t hurt their own reputation…
Danny Brown is the owner of Press Release PR, a boutique agency specializing in social media and PR convergence. He is a blog partner of the iEntry and WebProNews business network and the founder of the 12for12k Challenge.