Monday, September 23, 2013

Being Impersonated on Twitter

My Impersonation Story
Last week, I was introducing Twitter to an elementary campus.  As teachers searched my name to follow me, one asked, "Which one do I follow? There are two." Like any teacher would, I walked over to check it out. Yes, indeed.  Someone had taken my profile picture, description and full name to create another twitter account just like mine.  My handle @kbalbier, my imposter's handle @bkalbier.  At first, I was creeped out and worried that they would spam and direct message people that follow me.  :(

Checking it Out
Here are the results that appeared when I searched my name this morning. You'll notice the handles are slightly different and the second profile has a comma in the middle of the word instructional.

I'm still not sure why someone would create a double version of me.  I wonder if that person makes a few bucks for creating people and having them follow others.  Who knows.

I spent a little time checking out my impostor's profile page.  This morning it was following two.  One of the profiles it is following is @certain_kq. It looked like most of the followers of @certain_kq were impersonated too.  Then I found that @certain_kq was an impersonated version of @certain.  It seems like a big twisted web of fake twitter accounts.  After I searched the impostor again tonight, it is now following 21 people.

What to Do
Don't panic.  This could happen to anyone.  If this happens to you, I would inform your Twitter Followers.  Read up on the impersonation policies that Twitter has in place and make sure to report the impersonation to Twitter's Help

Then What
I reported the impersonation.  Twitter Support emailed back.  I was asked to fax a copy of my State Issued ID to verify that I am the real me.  I sent off the fax this morning.  Now, I'm waiting for Twitter to send a confirmation.  I hope this account will be deleted soon.

Lesson Learned 
I will make it a routine to search my name on Google and Twitter more often.  I will also read more than a profile description before deciding to follow others.

This is not going to deter me from seeing the bigger picture.  Sharing the good that is happening in the world of education, my experiences, and making connections with other educators are all things that are meaningful to me.  There may be a copy of my face and profile, following random people and tweeting nonsense.  That profile will have 0 impact on the world of education.  It will be a meaningless Twitter Account.  I, on the other hand, have bigger plans for the real me.

After about 3 weeks, if I search the handle of the impersonator account, it currently says it has been suspended.  I searched @certain_kq and it has been suspended too.
FYI- I did not receive a confirmation from Twitter when they received my fax with my state issued ID.  I also did not receive a confirmation when the account was suspended. Just keep checking.


  1. So Karen I am interested to know, did Twitter suspend the fake account? I have had the same experience -- faxed my id details more than a week ago and have not heard back from Twitter since then.

    1. Yes, it took about 3 weeks. I didn't receive a confirmation from twitter that they had received my fax and I didn't receive notification that the other account was suspended.

      Today, if I visit the handle of the impersonator, it reads "The profile your are trying to view has been suspended."

      You probably won't hear back from Twitter.

  2. I am being impersonated by 3 people and Twitter says to me in an email that I don't have enough proof. I do have proof! One of the impersonators are saying disgusting things about me. I feel helpless that Twitter won't do anything . I'm being bullied. I filled out a form and still Twitter ignored my request. The impersonators are ruining my life. It just makes me sad. Thanks for listening.

  3. suprgrl, if you were my student, I would do anything to help you. I don't know if I can, but I'd like to try. Follow me on twitter, @kbalbier, and send me a DM with the handles that are impersonating you. I'll try to investigate and see if I can help you in anyway. It will force me to learn about the process in the event this happens to anyone else. In the meantime, don't let them ruin your life. Life is precious and it's sad that some choose to use the precious time we have here to hurt others.