There is one thing I don’t love about Twitter: It is really easy for someone to impersonate you, and there are just way too many accounts for Twitter to self-police.
So what do you do if, like me, you find out that someone is pretending to be your business?
First things first, you have to find out if someone is impersonating you. Use the Twitter search tool to do this:
- Type in your business’s name (not your Twitter handle) into the search bar.
- If someone is impersonating you, you are going to see more than just the one result. (If you have a common business name, you might have to click on ‘Search all people for…’ just to be sure.)
If your business is the only ‘you’ there, you are in good shape; it doesn’t seem that anyone is impersonating you. If there are multiple ‘yous’ there, make note of their Twitter handles (i.e. @10TWebDesign), as you’ll need them later.
Determine if any Twitter Rules Are Being Broken
OK, I know what you are thinking: They are pretending to be me, of course there are rules being broken!
Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple.
- Parody accounts are fully protected at Twitter. If they are upfront with the fact that they are not the real you, provided that they are not using any images to which you own the copyright, there is probably very little you can do about it.
- Fan accounts are also fully protected, again provided that they are not infringing on any image copyright.
- Accounts that have a similar (or the same) name as your company, but are in no other way attempt to present themselves as your company (especially if they state they are not affiliated with you) are also not a violation.
If the offending account doesn’t fall into these categories, you have a good chance of getting the account deactivated, especially if they are using your profile and header images.
Filing the Complaint
Time to make the Head Twitter-birds aware of the copycat account. Twitter handles all impersonation complaints using this impersonation complaint form on their support pages. Some tips to make sure your complaint gets approved:
- Be honest with your answers, especially the one about having a trademark. If you don’t have one, don’t tell them you do. Your complaint won’t be denied if you don’t have a trademark registered. Telling them you do and then not being able to give them proof will.
- File the complaint from your company’s email address. It should be ‘firstname.lastname@example.org,’ not ‘email@example.com.’ (If you don’t have email set up at your business’s domain name, why not?) Filing it from a third-party email provider forces Twitter to verify you are the real you.
- In the “How is this account pretending to be your brand, company, or organization?” section, don’t just click every box. Do the work to search through any only select the items that are really true. Clicking every box will likely get your complaint ignored, while selecting even just one box can be grounds to have the other account removed.
Wait for a Response
Give the good folks at Twitter time to work. Just because you filed the complaint at 8:32 AM doesn’t mean that the offending account will be down before your morning coffee break. Give it a few days, maybe a week. If you still haven’t heard back from them, shoot a tweet over to @Support and (politely) tell them that you had filed an impersonation complaint and ask (politely) if they have an update.
That Does It
It’s a good idea to check every month or two just to see if anyone is pretending to be you. Hopefully you won’t find anyone. If you do, feel honored that you are being impersonated, follow these instructions, and you should have no problems. If you have any questions, just drop me a line.