Twitter is one of the largest social media platforms with 237.8 million active users daily around the world, a number that has been steadily rising year over year. What started as a microblogging site is now a reliable social media network that is used by both businesses and individuals including celebrities. However, like many other social media platforms, it faces one major problem – the presence of fake accounts.
Though estimates for the amount of fake Twitter accounts vary drastically, the most reliable number comes from SparkToro and Followerwonk, who put the percentage of fake accounts on Twitter at 19.42%.
Fortunately, Twitter takes fake accounts very seriously and is known to permanently block such accounts. It has a stringent impersonification policy in place. Here’s what the official website says: “Accounts that pose as another person, group, or organization in a confusing or deceptive manner may be permanently suspended under Twitter’s misleading and deceptive identities policy.”
How to detect impersonators on Twitter
Look at feedback or complaints from customers and identify buyers who have never purchased from you or your authorized sellers. Most companies keep a record of customers and it can be easy to find buyers who got scammed by others.
Someone who purchases a fake product may not always know it’s fake. They may buy it assuming it to be genuine, resulting in disappointment. Such people are usually fast to leave feedback and question the manufacturer.
Do not neglect such complaints and take them very seriously as they can be a strong indicator of impersonations.
Most common scams on Twitter
Scammers rob people using a variety of tricks. Here are some common online scams on Twitter:
- Selling Counterfeit Products: Scammers sell replicas or counterfeit products without mentioning they’re fake. They use real brand names, tags, and logos to fool customers. Most of these sellers use hashtags to attract buyers since Twitter does not allow sellers of fake products to advertise on the platform.
- Offering Discounted Products or Codes: Low prices are a major reason why people fall for fake goods. Counterfeiters offer products at a discount, which attracts people and they end up falling for it. Moreover, it is also surprisingly common for scammers to hire the services of influencers for this purpose.
Beauty and skincare products, fashion goods, medicines, and cleaning products are some of the most commonly counterfeited goods; however, the list includes other items as well.
Twitter Blue: Impersonation on the rise
The recent rollout of Twitter’s new scheme, Twitter Blue, caused a surge in brand personation due to the scant identity requirements needed in order to sign up. With just an Apple ID, a phone number, and a €7.99 monthly fee, accounts would be awarded a blue check. Fake accounts popped up overnight, with a blue check to make them look legitimate.
The pharmaceutical giant, Eli Lilly and Co., lost billions on the stock market due to a tweet from a lookalike account. The fake account, posing under the name @EliLillyandCo, tweeted “We are excited to announce insulin is now free,” and was subsequently shared 3,000 times after remaining online for several hours.
Similarly, Lockheed Martin – a US-based weapons maker – noticed a 5% fall in market value due to a tweet from an impersonated account with the new blue tick.
How to report a Twitter account for impersonation (on your own)
Should you find an account that is impersonating your brand, diverting your profits, and giving you a bad reputation, you will need to report it to Twitter immediately and get it taken down. As in the case of Eli Lilly and Co., time is of the essence—all it took was several hours of being online for the Tweet to be shared 3,000 times and for Eli Lilly’s market value to plummet.
You may have just spotted one account impersonating your brand – but there are likely many others. Detecting, monitoring, and taking down accounts becomes an impossible task when just as you succeed in getting one account taken down, another pops up somewhere else.
There are two ways to report Twitter accounts:
- From the Profile: The easiest way to report a profile is to visit it and follow these steps:
- Open the profile that’s using your name.
- Choose the overflow icon (three dots) and select Report.
- Now choose the type of report you’d like to submit. Since you are reporting impersonation, it is best to choose the fourth option – they’re pretending to be me or someone else.
- Once you choose this option, the company will ask you to tell more about the impersonation attempt. Choose the right option according to the situation. This is very important because you may be asked to submit certain documents to prove you have the right to file a report.
- Me: If you are being impersonated. In this situation, you may have to submit identity documents such as your driver’s license to prove you’re correct.
- Someone I represent: Choose this option if you are representing a business or a person. Again, you will be asked to submit documents to prove that you have a right to file this report.
- My company or brand: Choose this option if someone’s running a fake page under your company or brand name. For this purpose, you may have to submit company documents and prove your link with the company.
- Someone else: Choose this option if a friend or family member is being impersonated. You may also choose this option for brands or pets.
- On the next page, you will be asked to provide more information about your report such as your real name or the name of the person who is being impersonated.
- You will receive a confirmation and the company may send you an email with further updates.
- By Filing a Report: Those who cannot visit the profile to file a complaint can choose to submit a report by going here.
- Choose who is being impersonated.
- Submit personal details to verify the information. Once again, you will have to submit identity documents.
- Twitter protects people who use different names for work. If such is the situation, you may choose to submit documents that prove you own a specific name.
It can take about a week to hear back from the company. In most cases, the culprit’s account will get permanently blocked or content that infringes one’s right will be taken off. In case your report is not successful, Twitter may give you the right to reapply with more documents or proof.
How to report trademark infringement on Twitter
Twitter understands that there aren’t just fake individual accounts but also pages selling fake products.
Here’s what the official site says: “Using another’s trademark in a way that may mislead or confuse people about your affiliation may be a violation of our trademark policy.“
You can report such violations by going here and providing the required information.
The first step is to choose the kind of report you wish to submit. It is best that you have a conversation with your legal department before you submit a complaint so that it doesn’t get wasted.
Next, you will have to prove you have a right to submit a complaint. Remember that only the legal trademark holder or their reps are allowed to submit trademark complaints.
While you can choose the third option ‘I am reporting misuse of someone else’s trademark,’ the company will not accept such a request and might ask you to submit a report regarding counterfeit products.
How to report counterfeit goods to Twitter
Twitter doesn’t allow scammers to sell fakes including digital and physical goods. You can report such violations by going here.
Choose you’re reporting counterfeit goods and submit a report. Both trademark owners and those not related to the product can file a complaint.
This is because the company allows victims or buyers of fake goods to file reports. Once a report has been submitted, Twitter will inspect the matter and may block the account of the person selling or promoting counterfeit goods.