Fake Twitter Accounts (Twitterjacking..?)

Fake Twitter AccountsAs Twitter continues to take off and people catch on to its potential to direct traffic online, we’re seeing more and more fake accounts building up on the network.

Whilst extreme social networkers like Scobleizer, Leo La Porte and Kevin Rose have 20,000+ followers hanging on their tweets, other people are resorting to more grey hat tactics to hijack our attention – impersonating well known personalities in order to build up a following.

Some high profile fake Twitter accounts

Some of these accounts are old and disused, but others are very active and have big followings behind them. Like most things on Twitter, setting up an account is trivial. There’s no means of verification at the point of sign-up and the service is dependent on its users for exposing the charlatans.

  • Fake Seth GodinSeth Godin
    http://twitter.com/SethGodin
    Probably the most libellous and overtly dishonest Twitter account that I’m aware of.

    Seth Godin has publicly stated on his blog that he doesn’t use Twitter, yet this guy just keeps plugging away. I came across the subject of fake Twitter accounts, or “twitterjacking”, because of a post from fake Seth pointing me to (actually quite a cool) new site I subsequently blogged abouthttp://www.brandtags.net.

    The guy behind Brand Tags, Noah Brier reported 77,000 tags added to his new site over one weekend after a Friday launch. No doubt “Seth Godin” played quite a big role in the healthy launch traffic, what with having over 5000 followers and a weighty reputation behind him.

  • Sergey Brin - also not on TwitterSergey Brin
    Pure spam. Couldn’t be further from the M.O. of the genuine guy.
    http://twitter.com/googlesense

  • Mark ZuckerbergMark Zuckerberg
    Its interesting that Zuckerberg seems to be genuinely on Twitter… I say this because his updates are protected (private) and he only follows one guy – a PR/social media blogger by the name of Dave Ambrose. Whats notable is that Zuck has 21000 + updates – seemingly just to this one guy.

    I’m not sure if this is some kind of in-joke between Ambrose and another contact, or if MZ has some kind of special relationship with Dave Ambrose that he likes to maintain privately on Twitter. Seems unlikely but worth watching nonetheless. Ambrose does seem to post quite a bit about Facebook on his Tumblog.

  • Steve Jobs not on TwitterSteve Jobs
    Less open parody and more outright impersonation than the Fake Steve Jobs (despite the lego avatar). The account is pretty much dormant, despite having over 6,500 followers.
    http://twitter.com/SteveJobs

  • Fake Steve JobsFake Steve Jobs
    Open and obvious parody.
    http://twitter.com/FSJ – this is the account of the Fake Steve Jobs blogger, who is actually quite a funny guy.

  • Condi Rice on Twitter... notCondoleezza Rice
    http://twitter.com/condi
    This account is pretty much open parody in the vein of Fake Steve Jobs.
    Says things like: ” Red alert, bitches! That John Edwards twitter account is sooooo fake.” (sadly it’s not – might’ve been more entertaining)

  • not the real dvorakJon C Dvorak
    The famous mac linkbaiter has someone pretending to be him.
    http://twitter.com/therealdvorak – the lowercase one is fake.
    The real real DvorakThis one is the real REAL Dvorak:
    http://twitter.com/THErealDVORAK

  • George W Bush - world's most powerful mentally handicapped personGeorge W Bush
    http://twitter.com/ThePresident
    One of a great many fake GW accounts
    Last update a month ago, 284 followers

  • Henry Rollins could kick Chuck's assHenry Rollins
    http://twitter.com/HenryRollins
    6,587 followers
    The person who runs this account mostly just tweets quotes from Rollins’ books. I’m not sure why any sane person would want to impersonate the ex Black Flag front man, especially considering the ramifications if he ever finds you. Ouch.

  • Not MugginsRobert Mugabe
    http://twitter.com/robmugabe
    The internet barely worked in Zim before the elections, so I don’t think anybody would expect this to be the real Muggins. Says things like: “Thinking of shutting the electricity down for laughs”.
    109 followers
    Last update: 8 days ago

  • ChuckChuck Norris
    1943 Followers, last update 18 days ago
    http://twitter.com/chucknorris
    This one was inevitable I suppose.

  • Some famous rich bintLindsay Lohan
    http://twitter.com/lindsaylohan
    382 followers, last update 1 month ago

    A lot of these Paris Hilton types have fake profiles on Twitter, mostly just as link bate for trashy celeb sites.

  • The Dark LordDarth Vader
    http://twitter.com/darthvader
    The dark lord is doing very well for himself in the micro blogging space with 8078 followers
    Last update 1 month ago.

  • Older fake Twitter accounts, barely active…

Anybody know of any other fake Twitter accounts worth outing? If you’re ever suspicious or unsure about a profile, its always worth checking it out on Summize to see what other users are saying.

I suppose the trend to jump the follower queue based on the clout of an appropriated reputation will continue for the forseeable future. Its a little easier to get away with considering the cheap, quick and superficial nature of Twitter usage.

I wonder if we are going to see the Twitter equivalent of the Facebook fan page, with popular personalities having the accounts managed by their pr companies. I guess this is already happening at the political level and Barack Obama is a good example of this, although it should be said that his updates to have a genuine tone to them.

If Twitter can sort out its architectural issues and continue to scale the twitterjacking phenomenon going to be one to watch. I don’t think it will go away in the immediate future, its just going to get a bit more sophisticated.

21 Responses to “Fake Twitter Accounts (Twitterjacking..?)”

  1. Interesting blog. Do you think that these fake Tweeple would be cool if they were obvious social or celebrity parody? If it was more a funny, cool, interesting social statement rather than a rip or an obvious traffic pull ploy.

    Some interesting stuff here. You’re definitely going on my blog roll.

    Cheers.

  2. Where’s good ol Vernon Koekemoer?

  3. @Mandy Yes, I think if you’re obviously parodying somebody in the vein of Fake Steve, then thats fine by me. And if you’re good at it like Fake Steve is, you’re adding value for your followers as well as piggybacking on the public awareness of the actual persona.

    Of course depending on who you parody and how you cover your tracks you might get into some hot water and end up damaging your own online reputation. I guess thats the risk you take.

    Read your post on Tech Leader – I have a blog there too which I really need to take the wrapping off..

    Cheers,
    Luke

  4. @Ismail Doesn’t look like Twitter has taken off in Benoni yet.. maybe there’s an opportunity in that ;)

  5. twitter.com/CobraCommander

  6. Yeah. Whoever is impersonating Gandalf here needs the serious crap beaten out of them http://twitter.com/gandalfthegray

  7. hehehe, nice phrase, ‘twitterjacking’, whenever I find a suspicious account I notify @spam or @oddfollow too, I also like dummy names (tweetless accounts) and characters. It could be cool to spoof people or impersonate them, it’s a form of art which is very common in theatre and on TV, why not on Twitter?

  8. This is a funny one twitter.com/fakejenaniston

  9. @fakejenaniston is a fun one!

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  11. Ooh! I’m just as self-absorbed as my counter-part! @fakejimmyfallon

  12. [...] Followers of @iTunesTrailers were initially skeptical of the real-looking because of the proliferation of fake Twitter accounts/Twitterjacking. [...]

  13. Just saw a guy? who is doing the 6 Million Dollar Man (colsteveaustin). Funny stuff, from calling out 50cent on the weak monetary amount attached to his name to…….

  14. [...] bother to check their veracity.  Twitter is the third most popular social networking.  The increase in traffic ultimately means an increase in fake Twitter accounts.  To treat what anybody says on Twitter as gospel is seriously failing Journalism [...]

  15. As a prank, a fake Twitter account was set up using my name. More than a month went by before I found out.

    Verification should be a part of any public “service.”

    Vincent Miskell

  16. u know what annoys me?? when so many celeb accounts r like this…type in taylor lautner on twitter…all of ‘em r fake…believe me i luv him but he himself said he doesnt have one!! impersonators r prty funny sometimes tho…follow em for laughs:D

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