How should Twitter spoof accounts be dealt with?

Leading digital PROs share their advice on how to deal with a Twitter account spoofing a client.

"Have a better comms plan. Spoof accounts crop up when you are not doing something you should. I've seen spoof accounts disappear once the spoofed account starts sharing more information in a more personal way." Matt Bostrom, APCO Worldwide. 


"I would approach the spoofer and explain the potential risks associated with confusing people where the safety of medicines and health are concerned." Ritesh Patel, Chandler Chicco Companies. 


"Ascertain what the account's intentions are. Is it a relatively harmless parody that would cause your brand's reputation harm by attempting to silence it? The most famous spoof Twitter account is probably Fake Steve Jobs, which Apple suffered for years rather than face the backlash from trying to squash it." Fernando Rizo, Cohn & Wolfe.


"I'd contact Twitter first - it now does a lot more to protect brands. If the terms and conditions didn't protect us, I would contact the user. I'd make clear on the client's channels that we weren't responsible and we were resolving the issue." Alan Parker, Golin Harris. 


"I'd use our real-time monitoring service, Metrica Radar, to find it and alert them. We are media measurement experts and our clients trust us to find them the relevant content and measure its potential impact." Richard Bagnall, Gorkana Group. 


"Don't panic and get heavy-handed. Twitter allows spoofs, provided they are not deceptive or misleading. Establish its impact, act proportionately and engage positively - humility and levity go a long way. They are not necessarily bad: the @ElBloombito spoof of Mayor Bloomberg is rather touching." Rishi Saha, Hill & Knowlton.


"Quickly and with the aid of experience. The important thing is not to freak out, abandon social media and call in the heavies to deal with your detractors. There will always be someone with something negative to say." Michael Darragh, Ogilvy.


"An immediate response is needed. Should material be libellous and damaging to the brand then legal action might be required." Lawrence Collis, Shine Communications.


"If satire is good-natured, there may be an opportunity to earn goodwill by engaging with it and learn how people view your brand." Dan Baxter, Text 100. 


"Imitation can be the greatest form of flattery. Take @CherylKerl. Her Geordie musings on life validate Cheryl Cole's celebrity and brand. Even satirical comment can help drive a conversation. Yet when a spoof borders on the libellous, be decisive, act swiftly and put across a client's story honestly. People want to see a human response, not heavy-handed action." Graz Belli, Third City.


"Call Twitter. If the account is malicious, they'll deal with it. If there's no harm done, we'd get the genuine client account verified." James Warren, Weber Shandwick. 

From PRWeek's Digital Thought Leader supplement November 2011

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