Justin Bieber Loves Us! Are You Aware of the Dangers of Brandjacking?

Are you aware of how easily your reputation could be ruined online?

We’re all well aware of how quickly rumours can be spread through the internet these days, even when they are completely unfounded, and how sometimes they even make it to mainstream news outlets without being fact checked. But if we ignore the celebrity ‘death’ hoaxes for a moment and stop to think about the darker side of all this, the terrifying truth emerges; the fact that your reputation could be ruined in seconds.

Fact is, it’s getting easier for others to pretend to be you. No longer do they need to hack into your site, nor even set up a fake account.

Now, a new site, ‘Lemme Tweet that for you’ allows users to create fake tweets in the guise of being from other people’s profiles, which can then be used as ‘screenshots’ in blogs, such as this one (wink wink).

tweet-fave

There have been many examples of how this could be used to make tweets from celebrities, like this one:

tweet-justin

[We’re sure Justin Bieber does love us (although we lack evidence to support our presumptions), but sadly this tweet is fake…]

But tweets like this are not really that damaging. Ok, they mean someone can pretend you’ve endorsed them when you haven’t, but things could be worse and most people will know that the ‘tweets’ like this from high profile celebs aren’t real.

But what about from a brand perspective? What if people started spreading news about your brand, based on something you ‘tweeted’?

For example, what if during the horse meat scandal, you were Sainsbury’s and someone blogged about this ‘tweet’:

tweet-horse

[Disclaimer: This tweet is 100% fake, obviously, and we do not have any evidence to suggest that it is in anyway true. This is just an example; we in no way are implying that we think this is the truth, etc etc.]

Looks real, right (apart from our big ‘fake’ stamp!)? Chances are, this would be spread across the internet quickly and be repeated as ‘truth’.

So, what can you do to avoid being affected by this new tool or similar attempts to besmirch your name? Unfortunately, Twitter has no copyright or trademark over their interface, so there is little you can do if this does happen to you.

However, there are some things you can do to minimise the damage:

  • Being aware of the fake tweet in the first place is essential. Chances are, if it’s been included in a blog, there will be reference to your brand. Therefore, social media monitoring will be invaluable in finding such content, especially tools that have real-time alerts so you will know quickly when something is posted.
  • You can then contact the author, leave a comment clarifying or even in some cases consider more serious measures to get the content removed, depending on how damaging it is.
  • It might also be worth clarifying on your own, real, channels that you are aware of the fake content and that it is untrue.
  • Having a good reputation in the first place will help – if you’re active online and your fans trust you, they are less likely to believe rumours when they come around, at least not before you have confirmed or denied them.