If your university has not snagged up its name on twitter.com your time is running out. We have heard of twitter squatters in the past but now they are getting a little more savvy and using common university names to tweet news about your university.
That doesn’t sound so bad until you look into it further. The thought of not being in control of your university’s twitter name is a little scary, although there is a way around that with the recently popular “the_real_centralmichigan” work around. The larger issue comes when this “fake” account start getting a lot of followers because you cannot control what they are pumping out.
I have a lot of twitter search’s setup to run all the time, “Wayne State” is one of them and a tweet this morning caught my eye. It was from an account named “CentralMichigan” with the tweet:
Not all that bad right? They are promoting Wayne State, but something looked odd about this account. The Central Michigan logo looked blurry, the background was compressed weird with an “ABC Trial 4″ in the corner and the bio was of an independent reporter.
Clicking on the link though it brings you to a Detroit Free Press article with the story on it. But notice something odd about the page?
It is not at https://freep.com/, it is at their own https://vyous.com/ and the Free Press article is loaded beneath an ad bar. Taking a look at the code you can clearly see they are intentionally using frames to load their ads up top and the full URL of the article below. Luckily this was a small Google text ad, it could have been way worse.
Universities not in “the game” are vulnerable
Savvy reporters, potentially even bots, are taking advantage of your content for their benefit. Although this CentralMichigan account does not have very many followers it could. Since there is always sports news/highlights it is a great way to pull people in.
What can you do?
Because the CentralMichigan account clearly states it is an independent reporter and has no affiliation with Center Michigan University there is nothing that can be done in this case. They are not trying to impersonate the university.
The best preemptive course of action is to make sure you are in control of your university’s twitter name. Even if you are not going to use it and you sign up with your personal email, that type of stuff can be changed later. This will make it harder for these types of accounts to gain a following.
If this is happening to your university don’t wine and complain, fight back with BETTER content. If people are following the independent reporter for sports updates they more than likely will follow the official university for updates. It is easy to setup an RSS to Twitter link to make it easy and automated.
I encourage everyone to check https://usernamecheck.com/ which checks a ton of social web sites to see if you name is already taken.
Is this something to be concerned about? (they are promoting your university for you) Should you care if they are making a few bucks on the side?