Actually this happened to me a few years ago, except it was a group of people who were creating fake Twitter accounts that were supposedly me. They were angry with my stance on an issue, and so they created accounts with photographs that matched mine and would have a near-identical user handle. The only difference was that they would switch letters in the name or would add a number or another character.
It was a huge problem, because they even copied some of my own tweets and sent them out as their own. And they even fooled some of my closest friends. I had to eventually shut down my Twitter account and stayed off Twitter for many months after.
So to your question about whether it's a "fake" account. There are a few things you can do, and here they are:
1) If you know the person well enough to email them, email them and ask. Or if you are connected via another forum like Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc., send them a private message there and tell them about the account and make sure it's them. I know you can send private messages on Pinterest, because that's how my child communicates with friends from school rather than texting.
2) Now what if you don't know the person well ... maybe they are someone with whom you have interacted online, but you know them well enough to exchange friendly messages? In this case, I would go to the original account where you first made the connection with them and send them a private message, asking if they have created duplicate accounts. Chances are, they have not.
3) Third issue is that you do not know this person at all. Maybe they are a celebrity, or maybe they're someone with a lot of followers, like a politician. Usually on Twitter, you can check to see if they've been "Verified." That's the blue check mark next to the name. No check mark, probably not them.
But barring that ... suppose it's some normal person ... like me. I have nearly 9,000 followers on Twitter now, but my account is not verified by Twitter. Suppose you see someone on Twitter who looks like me, talks like me but you don't know? Again in this case, you have to look for some telltale signs, which are:
A) The switching of letters in the user name. It's very subtle. For example, your user name here is "KODA," and they might change it to "K0DA" using a zero instead of the capital letter "O." Very sneaky.
B) The image or photograph. If the person has a selfie like mine on this web site, you will see a deterioration in the photo quality.
C) Study the posts. Usually an impostor will start posting outlandish things, mixed in between the posts that sound "normal." For example, the other day I saw an impostor of the Donald Trump account tweet that he couldn't wait to get in the White House and run around the hallways naked. Knowing Trump's propensities, I actually went to the account with the blue checkmark to verify. Sure enough, it was NOT him. When I clicked on the account that posted the tweet, they had spelled his name "Trunp" instead of "Trump." So you see that very subtle change with the letters again.
D) And barring all of this, send a note directly to the account and say, "Is this a real account?" If the person is "real," believe me, they will tell you. I do it. I want people to know that I am who I say I am.
Which brings me to my last point. After that bad experience a few years ago, I implemented a self-protection, which is that I try to match all of my photographs on every site that I use. This photograph matches a photo on my Tumblr account. I do use a different photo on my LinkedIn account, because it is more professional for job hunting. But I try to keep the photographs consistent so that people can match up and verify that it's me.
Hope this helps, and let me know if I didn't answer any questions! Sorry if I rambled!
I especially liked your last piece of advice concerning photographs. That is something new I just discovered -that we can search by images. This comes in handy when we may be unsure if our photos are being used as fake profiles or to check if someone else is using one. I know that can happen a lot on Twitter. I have definitely been followed by fake accounts with innocent pictures that you know are not the person posting. This can sometimes be easily confirmed by doing a google 'image search'.
KODA- It definitely can be difficult at times to ascertain if a profile is fake or not. Which is why protecting our privacy and what we choose to share to the outside world, can help minimize - to some degree- any potential malicious intent from the fake account. But in saying that, we can't always. Nor, in some cases do we wish to hide certain aspects of our personality online. Which is where privacy settings and block features may need to be used. Building trust online can - and should- take a lot longer than when meeting someone in person. I say this only because we are missing one key ingredient which is 80% of communication- Body language. Eye contact, and how someone conveys themselves in person can help as determine truth vs lie etc. Which is not always possible online, if at all. So taking on board Heidi's great advice, looking for consistency from the user and our own caution, can really help determine whether an account is fake or real with potential malicious intent.
I hope that helped! Does anyone else have some helpful tips for KODA?
It is sad that we have to be concerned with wether an account is real or not, or if someone has opened an account, falsely in our name.
The responses above are very helpful, and have great advise.
There is also the question if the friend request we have just received is legit or not-or that Friend we would like to add but aren't quite sure it is really them. That can be difficult to tell. If it is someone you know-the best line of action or safest -is to ask them if this is their account.
When it is a celebrity then it gets a bit more complicated. There are so many fake accounts on social media, we have to be very careful to find the core account. If the celebrity is sending the friend request-9 times out of 10, it is a troll. Normally-unless we are standing with them and they tell us they are going to friend us, asking for our call sign-then a celebrity will not send friend requests.
I hope all the responses have helped. If you have any other questions or concerns, or if you feel bullied at all, please contact the CyberSmile Team. We are here to help you!!
Thanks, Reflective Joy -- I have been so inundated with Christmas that this is the first time in a couple of weeks I've had to check the forum. Glad my advice made sense! Sometimes I type in a novel here and wonder later on if I sounded like a lunatic. :-D