Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The fake Barry Schwartz, Jill Whalen, Lisa Barone and other spammers

I don't need to say it; the real Jill Whalen, Lisa Barone and Barry Schwartz are not spammers.

However, these three (and others) are famous enough within the Search community for people to target others in the Search community with twitter accounts pretending to be them.

Here's the most recent one - fake rustybrick / Barry Schwartz. The format is always the same. The fake account pads out the name with underscores.

What really bugs me about this is that the person behind this is clearly from the Search community. They probably read the same blogs as I do. They probably follow the same twitter and friendfeed accounts that I do!

I do think this is a Search issue as although people like Jill and Lisa have very popular Twitter accounts they don't have the many of thousands of followers that some the addicts do. We're not seeing anyone spoofing these larger accounts, at least we're not seeing so much of it. No. I think it is most likely that people are making the effort to target known names from Search.

It is people like this that are the people most likely to give SEO a bad name.

What also bugs me about this is that this fake account already has 82 followers. I've not checked but I would confidently expect to find that one or more of those 82 followers describe themselves as a 'social media expert' or 'social media consultant' or something like that. Muppets. At the best they've got their auto-follow turned on. Worse case is that they've been duped by the faker.

The good news is that Twitter seems pretty quick to react. I was followed by the fake Jill Whalen yesterday morning and by the time I got back home (having been to Paris in between times!) the account had been suspended. This may have been due to a report from Jill or friend but may also have been due to the account pushing Twitter's expected number of invites or blocks.

Can we find out who is behind these and bosh them on the head, please? Can the Search community please wake up and turn their auto-follows off? Thanks.

Update: I'm catching up with my feeds and can see that Barry has a disclaimer published already. That shows how switched on is but also underlines my point that some people are being hoodwinked and need the warning!

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