Who do you trust? Sounds like a simple, black and white question doesn't it? Trust in the real world (read offline) is something we're all familiar with. We've been burned by people or thrown under a bus or two. We adjust our construct of what trust means over time.
Online, however, this becomes more difficult. As trust levels drop with the stock market, it is also playing out in the microcosm of our online social connections. Savvy spammers have begun leveraging the trust equity that people and companies are establishing.
A couple of weeks ago I started noticing a trend on some of the micromedia sites that I use, including Twitter. Spam accounts were being created using an iteration of a social celebrity's username. I was friended by accounts from Scoble, Tamar and others. Or so I thought. If you looked closely at the invites, they were from the accounts scobleizer_ and tamar_ (note the underscore). Once the account clones were working they spammed about 2000 users and in most cases gained 200-400 followers before they were shut down.
Seeing that trend, I joked around with the following message:
To my chagrin, my username was quickly used with the underscore scam. I had 20+ followers alert me that this happened and I took the appropriate action. This happened two times once with _mattdickman and once with mattdickman_. Each time, over 350 people followed these fake accounts based on the trust I've established.
Another example of trust abuse happens when people/companies don't engage in this space and create a vacuum. Just ask the Dalai Lama. A fake user came on to Twitter and created the account OHHDL and had around 20,000 follow them. It was later revealed to not be an official channel of his holiness.
So, how do you make sure this doesn't happen to you? If it does happen, what is your response? I think having a supportive community (like mine) helps a lot as they spread the word and make sure it doesn't get out of hand.
Has this happened to you? How would you respond?
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