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MANILA, Philippines - With word of spoof Twitter accounts plaguing Globe Telecom now in the public eye, it seemed fitting to discuss how to spot and avoid fake Twitter accounts in the future.
Using the recent Globe issue as a case study, let's take a look at potential areas that need to be scrutinized before we consider putting our faith in the person behind a Twitter account.
Do some research
The first thing anyone should think of when it comes to getting good customer service is that social media should be the last resort for important issues.
Using Twitter to solve an account dispute, for example, can potentially be frustrating due to Twitter's character limitations.
If you need help from any company, get service by checking the company's official website and looking for their support or contact information, then send an email or a phone call first.
In the case of email, you can then use Twitter to follow up on your query if you really need help, and you only need to mention the email address you sent the email from to have them check on their end. You are not obliged to give a ton of personal information publicly to get service.
The next steps are critical to ensure you don't get tricked.
The authenticity of a company's Twitter account (or accounts) is often publicly available, so checking what those accounts are should be your next priority.
Some companies have verified accounts you can tweet to get help. If they have multiple accounts, with only one of them verified, send your query to the verified account, and if one of the unverified accounts sends you a response, get confirmation from the verified account.
This is a long-winded process, but assuming you have no other options, it pays to be safe.
After receiving a message from anyone claiming to be representing a corporate entity, check the spelling of their Twitter account and compare it to the publicly available listings of people that represent that company.
If the Twitter account looks like it's spelled correctly, you're on the right track. The next step is to make sure the spelling of the Twitter handle doesn't only look correct, but is using the right characters.
Twitter fonts can sometimes be difficult to discern. A small letter L can look the same as a large letter i. The same goes for the letter O and the number 0.
The fastest way to check is to copy the Twitter handle directly off the profile using a highlight-copy maneuver. You can then copy the text onto a word processor (not a notepad editor but something like Microsoft Word) and change the font.
Change the font from something without serifs (what Twitter's typeface is) to something with serifs, such as Times New Roman. If there's something fishy with the letters or numbers used, it'll be more evident with the added serifs on the typeface.
Spoof accounts and authentic accounts have noticeable differences as well.
For instance, a newly-made spoof account tends to have a much smaller number of followers compared to a real service account, which is likely to be followed by a lot of customers looking for service. Real accounts also tend to have far more tweets compared to new fake accounts.
If all of the accounts of a company have no verified status badges, such as in smaller companies, compare the information on the website and on the Twitter profile, and make sure both refer and link back to one another. That increases the reputability of the account.
Everything else is also deserving of scrutiny, such as the consistency of prior tweets made on an account's timeline or the uniformity of the background used by multiple real service accounts.
The bottom line
Remember that you own your data. Don't simply give personal data out to people who ask for it in the guise of offering help, and if there's doubt in your mind after checking a seemingly legitimate Twitter account, step away.
If you spot an obvious fake, report it to Twitter's moderation service. With enough people calling attention to a spoof account, that account will lose its power and go away, either by the spoofer's own deletion of the account, or by actions taken by Twitter to keep its reputation clean.
The most important thing to take away from all this is you have to be constantly aware of what you're tweeting and to whom. Vigilant tweeters will stay safer if they keep their wits about them when a problem arises. - Rappler.com
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