Individuals increasingly use social networking tools to commit fraud. Philadelphia Eagles player Asante Samuel discovered his Twitter imposter after the Philadelphia Daily News attributed to him comments from his doppleganger’s Twitter feed. Keith Olbermann was a victim of Twitter impersonation as was Tony La Russa, manager of the St. Louis Cardinals. Temple professor Susan Jacobson predicts that much like the early days of the Internet when individuals bought the domain names of celebrities to sell it to those notables for a tidy profit, we will likely see variations of such mischief on social networking sites.
Aside from the celebrity context, we may see other misuses of Twitter feeds. Governments increasingly use Twitter to alert the public about car accidents, fires, crime reports, and public health emergencies. A tweet about a fabricated fire or car accident could cause dangerous traffic jams and needless panic. Someone could impersonate a police department, sending tweets about crimes never committed. This teaches us to be circumspect about all of those Twitter updates.
H/T to Jim Stanton for his blog posting, “Social Media Fraud On the Increase.”
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