Tag Archives: posts that I hope don’t ruin the ending of fight club

Twitter Hijacking – Don’t Get Caught Out

1 Apr

JoshCheesman
@JoshCheesman

I thought when I started writing this article that I might be coining the term ‘tweetjacking’. Alas, a quick Google revealed I’d be beaten to the punch (although the accepted definition is slightly different from what I plan on using).

Basically, a Twitter hijack (henceforth Twitjack) is when someone imitates another person – usually a celebrity – on Twitter. Hence why, for example, David Mitchell is listed on Twitter as @RealDMitchell. When it’s done to a company or product instead of an individual it’s known as brandjacking.

Fonejacker

It's basically like being this guy, except they don't have to be as talented,

There are various reasons why someone might do a twitjack – to get attention, to spite the person they’re doing it for, some kind of psychotic delusion that they actually are that person – and it’s all too easily done. After all, I can say my name is Tom Cruise, and Twitter can’t do anything to stop me, because that might be my real name. And if I then upload a picture of Tom Cruise and start making posts about Hollywood and scientology and why tall people suck, well, then it’s hard for anyone to know it’s not really Tom Cruise (unless I make it very obvious). There’s no obligation on Twitter to provide any kind of identification when you create an account.

How does this affect me?

Unless you are a celebrity, it’s very unlikely that someone’s going to Twitjack you. But let’s look at things from the other side of the equation.

If you’re a journalist, Twitter is a great resource for finding out the comments someone might have on a particular issue if you can’t get hold of them on the phone. But, if the Twitjacker is subtle, you may end up attributing a comment falsely, and that could potentially land you in all sorts of trouble (posting a tweet and erroneously linking it to a particular figure  could potentially count as libel).

How to Avoid Being Burnt

Luckily, a few simple steps and a bit of common sense will stop you from making any drastic mistakes. Here’s what to do if you’re not sure whether a Twitter account is genuine or not.

First, and this sounds really obvious, but read through a few of their tweets, You don’t have to read every one, but maybe say 20. Look for anything that that person would never say in public – if you find a Twitter account for David Cameron where he’s posted that he’s planning on spending the weekend shooting immigrants, then chances are that’s not actually the PM. It might not be obvious for one or two posts, hence why a quick scroll could save you a lot of hassle later.

Of course, sometimes you may be dealing with a celebrity whose comments are so ridiculous that it would be hard for someone to invent something more outrageous – *cough*CharlieSheen *cough* – in which case you have to look for other clues.

Check that person’s official website, if they have one. If they do, they may have posted a link to their Twitter account there.

If there’s no clue on that front, then check their number of followers. If you think it’s Brad Pitt and he has less followers than you, then the chances are that you’ve got an impersonator (or possibly Tyler Durden).

Also look at when the account was created – if it was just after a major story broke about the celebrity, then the timing is probably a little  too perfect.

Once again, it’s mostly about common sense. If you’re really not sure, probably best to err on the side of caution and not run the comment. Better than being made to look a twit by Twitjackers.

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