This is an update of my Belfast Telegraph column
I got an email a few weeks ago. Bi11NY is following me on Twitter. I recognise the screen name Bi11NY. That is the name he uses for his email and Facebook. So I sent him an open message “hi @Bi11NY, welcome to Twitter”. Maybe I’ll recommend him to my friends as a #FollowFriday. A few days later a post appears from him:
- “I just made $128 already today working from home for Google”
And there is a link to a site that promised to “Boost Your Income”.
Bi11NY is the President of a US Television production company with offices opposite the UN building in Manhattan. He has online friends in London, LA and Belfast (where he was once a BBC producer). He is not the sort of guy who gets excited about making $128. I sent him a Direct Message on Twitter “Bill is this really you?” and a note to him on Linkedin.
Bi11NY’s profile had been stolen. Someone had lifted in Facebook name, checked against Twitter, used his list of Facebook “Friends” and spammed a rather suspicious site set up to con people out of money. If I hadn’t checked, I could have linked other friends to him unwittingly extending this spamming network.
But it’s not the only profile hi-jacking I have seen recently. Invest NI appear to be on Twitter as of August 4:
- Welcome to the Invest NI twitter account , http://www.investni.com
- start a business http://www.investni.com/ind…
- Social entrepreneur http://www.investni.com/ind…
- female entrepreneurs http://www.investni.com/ind…
It looks legitimate: name @investni, a link to the Invest NI site, lots of branding. But look at later posts.
- What benefits will Invest NI get from using Twitter, those out there who are a little bit a head of the game let them know
- Use this twitter to tell Invest NI , Why they should be using twitter?
And there is a disclaimer: “Unoffical [sic], Unauthorised, Cutting through the bureaucracy & red tape”
Invest NI have been lucky. Someone who has their interests at heart is helping them put out their message and encouraging them to use Twitter. It could have been the converse – someone steeling their name for pernicious reasons. On Twitter, they lost control of their brand and their message.
Invest NI’s official twitter feed is now to be @investninews.
So in 140 characters or less “Protect your brand, protect your message, protect your reputation.”