Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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June 13, 2013

Fake Accounts & Impersonations on Social Media: 5 steps on how to handle this to protect online reputation

One of the lessons I have shared with students and presented on is managing your online reputation. This means not only looking at what is being said about you, but also to check to see if anyone is posing as you on other social media sites.

Of course, working in social media, I regularly check to make sure I have control over my usernames across the social media platforms out there.

However, I experienced a first during the Reputation Institute Conference in Barcelona. I found out that there was a new Twitter handle with my exact information posted and this individual was tweeting with my name.

 

Well, my first thought was, this is interesting – but I knew I had to act accordingly and in a timely manner. It did seemed ironic that this was happening to me at a reputation conference. :) However, it was something I felt I needed to address immediately since your reputation – both online and offline – is your most priceless possession.

How did I handle this proactively? Here are some steps you all may want to be aware of just in case you have to handle this situation yourself with Twitter and other social media sites:

  • Being aware of the situation: You have to do active searches to make sure you are aware if there are any fake accounts on you out there. This is what I did when I was in Barcelona and found this username. It was pretty recent since it had my updated bio information, so I knew that it was just created.
  • Looking online for details on how to handle this situation on the social media site: Each platform – whether it is Facebook or Twitter – has their policies and guidelines on what you have to do to report this to them and say that this account is not you and you want it suspended and taken down. Here’s the guidelines I followed on Twitter and their Help Center site.
  • Complete the form: There are several steps you have to go through to make the report on the situation for the social media site. For example, this is just the start of the form for Twitter that I had to complete. It does ask you a lot of questions, but it gives them more information on what you are experiencing with your situation so they can be helpful.
  • Respond to the follow-up email: Twitter sent me a follow up email with a number for my report. However, I had to prove to them I was the person I said I was and not the other person who was trying to impersonate me on Twitter. In order to do this, I had to fax them a picture of myself (government issued ID) with information regarding the account as well as information on my Twitter handle. I had to do this in Barcelona, and I was very grateful to the K+K Hotel Picasso staff for allowing me to do this with their fax machine. Thanks! :)
  • Keep monitoring: While this was a first for me to experience, this doesn’t mean that it won’t happen again. It is key to consistently monitor and be aware of these social media platforms as they evolve and establish your presence there.

In summary, as a result, the fake Twitter handle has been suspended. However, what this experience showed me as a social media professional is the importance of not only monitoring your social media sites and profiles for impersonations, but also to establish a strong presence so people know your brand and interactions so if some fake accounts come up – they know it is not you.

While I may have won this battle, there is still a social media identity war going on, so this is just the beginning and we all have to be proactive about this. This is why I am thankful for my website, blog, and strong presence already on social media to build and maintain my reputation online.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,

Karen

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