Identifying Twitter fakesThe issue of athlete identity theft hit the papers again this week regarding fake athlete (AFL) accounts on Twitter.   Last time I spoke about this issue on SEN's The Run Home regarding identity theft on Facebook.   If you want Sports Geek's take on how athletes can handle the problem of online impersonators then check out my post – Fake sports stars can damage a personal brand. Kudos to Collingwood's Harry O'Brien extending his social media work from Twitter to Facebook to Harry's World website and taking control of his online brand.

How do you get rid of these fake athlete accounts?  Contact Sports Geek for more info on how to eliminate fake accounts in your sport.

What about the general public – how do you know who to follow & who to listen to?  Who is real?

Sports Geek's Twitter Quick Follow Guide

What is their username?

Is it a real person or a real brand?  It may be nickname or an online name but if the name looks suspect don't bother following.

What is their Twitter avatar?

Same question – is it a real person or logo? Admittedly some people use cartoon avatars or non-descript pictures but they maybe just shy.

Some fakes use the same avatar on multiple accounts if you see the avatar repeated in may be a fake or an automated account.

What is their bio say?

Gives you some insight into what they will tweet about and how that might interest you to follow back.

How many followers do they have?

This one is more subjective as some people relate follower numbers with influence & expertise.  This is where you look at the follower to following ratio.  High following numbers can be automated via tools to automatically follow people on keywords.  Twitter tries to restrict this by implementing rules & guidelines but they can be exploited by third-party follower tools.  How can you spot an inflated follower count?  They are following as many people as they have following them – maintaining the Twitter 1:1 ratio. However many of those accounts may be automatically following back to increase their follower counts as well.  These accounts use technology that works on following people & unfollowing them 24 hours later if they haven't followed back, churning through the Twitterverse looking for accounts that automatically follow back.

Sports Geek Tip: High follower numbers does not automatically equal expertise or influence.

What do they tweet about?

This is the main criteria I use to decide whether I follow back.

What are they tweeting about? Is it topics of interest to you?
Who do they tweet with? Do other people you know tweet with them?
If they just broadcast and never engage in discussion, will it provide value to me?

Now that might seem like too much to check, yet it only takes 10-15 seconds and allows you to have a stream of quality tweets in your field of interest.

Fake accounts crave attention and followers if you don't follow them you don't have to worry about them.

If you want to follow me please do so @seancallanan (I talk about sports & tech funnily enough) or for article & blog posts from @_sportsgeek_.

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