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In the first part of our article, we looked at the general characteristics of social media impersonation. This week we will study more closely the different social networks, and what you can do if you are impersonated and if your identity is stolen.
Facebook is a widely used platform, and most companies have official Facebook pages.
Impersonation on Facebook often involves false promotions for your products, and false recruitment campaigns.
These are most often “pages”, more rarely “groups”. Personal “profiles” are much less common. In general, these scams are used to collect personal information, which can then be sold to marketing companies or used for illegal purposes.
LinkedIn is a platform that is mainly used by professionals – executives or companies.
The goal is to use a person’s already established career to gain contacts and recreate a network – again to gather information, which can then be sold to third parties. Sometimes, the goal can be to tarnish a specific professional’s reputation.
Twitter is a public messaging platform used by individuals, brands, political parties and institutions.
One of the most common types of abuse on Twitter is to run a fake promotion in exchange for people’s email addresses. These addresses are then sold to phishers.
The smear campaign is also rather common -a fake Twitter account uses the name of a known person to spread hate or violence, attack other users, and basically post anything that can give a negative image about this person.
Instagram is a very widely used platform, but small businesses, solopreneurs and influencers are particularly well represented.
Sometimes only your photos will be stolen to create a fake profile that has nothing to do with your business. In other cases, your entire profile will be cloned – it will have an almost identical name, the photos, it will also use your logo, copy your bio, your hashtags…
Sometimes your copy will even have more followers than you!
Once again, the goal here is either to collect information in order to resell it, or to incite people to click on a phishing link.
Social media platforms all have tools to request the removal of fake accounts.
This page explains what to do to report impersonation. You can either report directly or report from a profile or a tweet. However, keep in mind that on Twitter, humoristic accounts are allowed. If the account makes fun of you it won’t be removed.
Instagram will only investigate identity theft if it is reported by the victim or a representative of the victim. If you know the person but are not legally representing them, you should inform them so they can take action themselves.
It can take a lot of time and great efforts to get a fake account removed. The support department of social media platforms is often very difficult to reach, and most will only respond with automated messages.
This influencer, for example, was lucky – her company’s fake account was quickly deleted – but she says that 3 people worked several days full time to deal with the issue. She also reported that communicating directly with Instagram was close to impossible.
This blogger, on the other hand, is having so much trouble getting the pro-Trump copy of her account removed that she is asking her community for help in reporting it. In her case, the attack seems very personal and probably goes beyond a simple commercial nuisance.
This report made by NATO’s Strategic Communications Team – which focuses on the manipulation of social media for political purposes – even showed that more than 90% of the accounts reported were never removed.
If this monitoring seems complicated and time-consuming, don’t hesitate to hire a team of experts. Our team has more than a decade of experience on these matters, and will be happy to help you.
It is rather easy to steal someone’s identity online or to create a fake social media account. A constant watch is necessary to ensure that no one is using your brand’s identity or is impersonating you.
The stakes are high for a brand – e-reputation is everything! Identity theft can undermine consumer trust, and make you lose business.
We will be back in May for our new article – an overview of the fight against illegal IP-TV.