Imposter Twitter Accounts could be Making Money off your University

By Nick DeNardis - Sun, Dec 7, 2008-->

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Social Media, Social Networks

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.

Example: twitter.com/CentralMichigan

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:

cmu tweet Imposter Twitter Accounts could be Making Money off your University

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?


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impersonation, strategy, twitter

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This post was written by:

Nick DeNardis

Nick DeNardis - who has written 26 posts on .eduGuru

Nick is the Associate Director of Web Communications at Wayne State University by day. By night he hosts the video blog EDU Checkup where he reviews higher education web sites live. Nick is an active member of the higher education web community and is an officer of Refresh Detroit, a group of web professionals whose goal is to promote web standards, usability, and accessibility.

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6 Responses to “Imposter Twitter Accounts could be Making Money off your University”

  1. Avatar image
    Adam Epstein Says:

    Good advice, thanks. By the time I got to it, the account I wanted was taken (fortunately not by imposters), but I was able to work around it.

    Since then I’ve gotten into an internal argument about conflicting Twitter accounts… imagine that. That one’s solved too, but was totally unnecessary.

    I’m afraid of the ones you can’t reel back in, but hopefully that won’t be a problem and our content will be worthwhile.

    Reply

  2. Avatar image
    Andy Shaindlin Says:

    I suggest that alumni officers take control of their alumni association names on Twitter as well, even if they’re not planning on using them yet.

    Meanwhile, it’s too bad there’s no equivalent of “twitter.edu” that show the username is in fact the property of the “real” institution.

    Good topic.

    Reply

  3. Avatar image
    ZooLoo Says:

    Anyone looking to profit off of new sites and concepts on the web are always going to be ahead of the average, school, business or individual. I know of at least teo different people that are actually stockpiling twitter user names in a effort to resell them. Some of them are even brand names like schools. When they approach most companies they are willing to pay a small fee for the account becuase they don’t know any better.

    Reply

  4. Avatar image
    Friend Adder Elite Says:

    I never heard about his one.. as I thought lots of glitches are on social networking sites including this.. but well its better to be informed.. thanks

    Reply

  5. Avatar image
    Jonathan@Friends&Money Says:

    I think that twitter is now becoming so popular that it is facing many of the security issues that facebook and other social bookmarking sites like it were experiencing a few years back. It is very annoying when scammers abuse sites like these and it just takes the fun element out.

    Reply

  6. Avatar image
    Maya Says:

    I think that this is interesting, but I have never heard about this problem.

    Reply

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