Manage Your Identity: Impersonator Accounts on Social Media

Noam Shapiro, June 24, 2014

Digital reputation management requires vigilance and initiative, on many fronts. Search engine result pages, social media, SEO, PR, and Wikipedia are all realms of one’s online presence that must be actively managed in order to ensure an accurate and favorable representation. One aspect of social media that can be particularly damaging to high profile individuals or brands is the prevalence of false, and often malicious, impersonators.

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The anonymity of the internet affords people the opportunity to create fake social media accounts using names of high profile individuals and brands. Often, these fake accounts are inactive; these profiles rarely post any new updates, and they may never be seen by users of the particular social media platform in question. However, these accounts can be damaging regarding search engine results. Search engines may mistakenly identify a phony profile with the actual individual, and then display this result to a user who is searching that name.

Some of these fake accounts are barely fleshed out and clearly nonsensical, but even accounts of this sort can be misleading or confusing for both search engines and real users. Other fake accounts can be more pernicious. These profiles may carry unfavorable images, nasty taglines, or other fields that mock or criticize an individual or a brand.

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It is thus imperative for people and companies interested in controlling their online identity to keep an eye on major social media channels for impersonators. Fortunately, the major social media platforms are aware of this problem, and they do offer the opportunity to report false accounts and to request their removal. Note that you may be asked to provide a copy of some form of identity verification, such as a valid driver’s license. With your awareness of this digital reputation threat and by taking active steps in response to any specific incidents, these fake accounts can often be eliminated.

Here are some helpful URL’s which outline steps you can take in each of the major social media channels in order to file a report of impersonation with a request for profile deletion:

http://help.linkedin.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/30200/kw/fake+profile
https://www.facebook.com/help/www/174210519303259
https://support.twitter.com/forms/impersonation
https://support.google.com/plus/troubleshooter/1715140?hl=en
https://help.instagram.com/446663175382270/


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