With the increasing use of social media over the past few years, there’s been a rise in the number of people attracting followers, but it opens up another problem: fake accounts.
Although some of these Twitter accounts appear to belong to the person they represent, they often don’t. With a little investigation, you can quickly see if it’s authentic; try right-clicking on the image and copying the link location, and input it into Google images. You’ll soon see how many people are using the picture.
Another quick way to spot a fake is via their Twitter username and their profile URL. They should match, but often, fraudsters will set up an account and then change their username, which means the URL will differ even though the Twitter username appears correct, it’s a real tell-tale sign.
However, not all fake accounts are that easy to spot, so you have to dig a little further beyond the obvious visual cues to catch these people in the act. But because not everyone is as stringent in checking the finer details when the fake account’s tweets appear on the timeline, they’re sometimes believed to be true and representative of the person they’re purporting to be. As a result, some of the biggest names and brands in the world have fallen foul of being misrepresented through a fake account and have caused quite a stir, as you’ll soon discover.
Ye (Formerly known as Kanye West)
Credit: David Shankbone creator QS:P170,Q12899557, Kanye West at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival (cropped), marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons
The 44-year-old rap artist is one of the first high-profile people who found themselves on the end of fake accounts. Someone set up fake accounts under the names @kanyewest and @MrKanyeWest just as the artist was at the height of his fame in 2009 following the release of his albums, Graduation, and 808s & Heartbreak. It didn’t sit well with Ye as, at the time, he wasn’t on the platform. So, he took to his blog to decry those imitating him and those using social media in a foul-mouthed rant before proclaiming, ‘Why would I want Twitter?’ Shortly after which, the accounts were closed. Ironically though, since he joined social media in 2010, as reports from Cnet have shown, he seems to manage to attract plenty of attention on his own!
Credit: Gage Skidmore, Angelina Jolie by Gage Skidmore 3, CC BY-SA 3.0
The actress remains a popular figure with people across the world due to her image being across so many facets of entertainment and popular culture for over two decades. Initially just a star on screen, Jolie was thrust into the homes of millions after being cast into the role of Lara Croft, the heroine from the popular video game Tomb Raider. There were numerous spin-off titles, too, with Tomb Raider: Curse of the Sword for the Game Boy Color being just one example. Lara Croft even features among the online slots on Foxy Bingo. Tomb Raider uses the iconic gaming imagery of Lara, but the character remains inextricably linked to Jolie. That’s still the case even in the most modern interpretations of the game, such as Lara Croft GO which was released on mobile platforms some years after she left the role. So, when a fake account that many thought was linked to Jolie’s charity work publically criticized a Croatian handball coach, you could see why the media in the country used it as headline news! However, it was soon denied by the actress, and not only did that account get closed down, but Jolie also contacted Twitter to take control of @AngelinaJolie before it could happen again.
Credit: Georges Biard, Ewan McGregor Cannes 2012, CC BY-SA 3.0
Another massive megastar who was the subject of a fake account is Ewan McGregor, the Scottish actor who rose to fame playing the role of Renton in the 1996 movie Trainspotting. In that Danny Boyle classic, his performance was enough to get him in the mind’s eye of George Lucas, who selected him to play Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars franchise. McGregor was the face of the Obi-Wan game on the original Xbox, and it’s a role he’s reprised numerous times since, including being the voice of his character in the video game of the franchise released on the PlayStation Portable. McGregor’s fake Twitter profile that attracted attention had 20,000 followers, all believing the daily tweets offered a window into his life. However, McGregor was quick to get things closed. After deciding to go onto the platform years later, he’s since decided to step away from the limelight as he decided social media isn’t the place for him, real or fake!