Aspiring Twitterati should be aware of ‘Twitterjacking’

May 1st, 2009 - 2:04 pm ICT by ANI  

Facebook Washington, May 1 (ANI): Thinking of creating a Twitter account for yourself? Well, before registering on the site, you should be familiar with the term: ‘Twitterjacked’.

Experts have said that those 140-character “tweets” on a user’s profile could also be the work of an imposter, who can be called a social identity thief in this case.

And while celebrities, athletes, politicians and media personalities are flocking the site, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to gauge the real thing from a phoney one.

Former hacking whiz Kevin Mitnick has said that it is very easy to register fake accounts at sites like Twitter.

“It’s easy to do, there’s no identity verification,” Fox News quoted him as saying.

He added: “Anyone could set up an e-mail account, change a letter or two and then pretend to be you. Imagine someone influential setting up a Facebook page and asking for resumes. It could be a head-hunter who is impersonating a CEO.”

When Twitter representatives were contacted to comment on the security issue, they failed to respond and answer queries as to how many profiles have been shut down for violations of its impersonation policy.

Twitter allows parody impersonations if a “reasonable person” would be aware that it’s a joke, and thus it’s already full of fake profiles of stars like Tina Fey, Christopher Walken, Condoleezza Rice, Bill Gates, Usama bin Laden and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steve Reich.

Security and social media experts have said that the ramifications of phoney profiles can be serious.

“Let’s say it was an up-and-coming artist or someone like Britney Spears who has a lot of public appearances and they ‘tweet’ that the Dallas concert is canceled, ’sorry folks,’” said Robert Hansen, president of SecTheory, a security consulting firm.

He added: “That can really drag someone through the mud. Or Tom Hanks could say he’s cancelling the red carpet appearance and drag an entire event down.”

Rick Sorkin, a strategist for enter: new media, a New York-based social media marketing firm, said impersonating an individual or brand fundamentally opposes the very idea behind social networking.

But, if one has become a victim of social identity theft, Twitter has advised them to contact its Terms of Service group.

However, experts have said that depending on how quickly the profile in question is caught, it may be too late.

“The obvious thing is registering yourself first and beat people to it. But as far as the actual act and you’re an up-and-coming artist after the fact, there’s really very little recourse other than saying to people that this is not me. You sort of have to have another way to explain that that is not indeed you, and that can be tricky,” said Hansen.

That’s where comes to rescue-it checks the availability of your brand name or name on 120 popular social media sites.

Michael Streko, the company’s co-founder, said that almost 20,000 people per month are currently checking its site for phonies.

“Since a bunch of celebrity names have been twitterjacked, our hits have been through the roof. They’re jumping on it now because they don’t want to deal with a squatter. Unless you start spending money to put out press releases saying that’s not your profile or jump through hoops to contact Twitter, it never works out well,” he said. (ANI)

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