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Sarah Palin Victim of Social Media Identity Theft

Since the beginning of the presidential campaign, Sarah Palin has used Twitter and Facebook to communicate with the public. Impostors have taken every opportunity to jack her persona, even hacking into her personal email account.

Now, hackers and impostors are chiming in on Sarah Palin’s resignation. The Twitter profile for ExGovSarahPalin snags and reuses graphics, photos and tweets from Sarah Palin’s “Verified” Twitter acount, AKGovSarahPalin. This fake Palin account is still live as of this writing. In one tweet, a Palin impersonator invited followers to her home for a barbecue. Her security staff was reading these tweets and quickly dispatched security personnel to her home to intercept unwanted visitors.

Twitter has a “parody impersonation policy” that permits impersonation, as long as the parody is clear to readers. It’s puzzling to me that they would allow this, particularly in the case of the fake Sarah Palin account, which is plastered with Governor’s likeness.

Social media is not prepared for this type of use. And Twitter should rethink its policies.

Meanwhile, USA Today reports that St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa, who has also fallen victim to social media identity theft and has sued Twitter, claiming damage resulting from “cybersquatting” and misappropriation of his name, has now dropped his lawsuit. One report mentions an out of court settlement that compensates LaRussa for his legal fees and includes a donation to his favorite charity. Twitter co-founder Biz Stone blogged a denial of such a settlement.

Financial identity theft is impossible to prevent 100% of the time, and so is social media identity theft. However, there are ways to lock down your name and protect yourself, or at least to mitigate the potential damage to your name and reputation.

As we spend more time online, meeting people, posting photos and offering glimpses into our personal lives, here are some action steps to keep Social Media Identity Theft at bay.

Robert Siciliano, identity theft speaker, discusses scams.

 

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