Celebrities and Imposters Alike on Twitter
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One of the very interesting things about Twitter is that there are real celebrities on there, who really interact with their fans. However, there are also celebrity impersonators – unauthorized imposters – and they have the potential to wreak real havoc.

Take, for example, take Phoenix Suns center Shaquille O’Neal. Obviously a Twitter account called “THE_REAL_SHAQ” couldn’t possibly be, well, the real Shaq.


Or could it?

In fact, it really is the real Shaq, and he regularly interacts with his fans on Twitter. In fact, it’s not uncommon for him to put out his location on Twitter, and surprisingly few people actually show up to mob him! (In fact, there seems to be a rash of Twittering among NBA glitterati – Milwaukee Bucks forward Charlie Villanueva was recently taken to task by the coach for Twittering during half-time.)

Other celebrities who really are who they say they are on Twitter include Levar Burton, Wil Wheaton, Fran Drescher, Christopher Walken, Dave Matthews, Britney Spears, and even Yoko Ono (imagine!)

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But there are also plenty of people who are nothing but cheap pretenders – or worse. Steven Colbert, Tina Fey, Ewan McGregor, and even his holiness the Dalai Llama have all had their names taken in vain in the form of a Twitter account.

Some, such as Tina Fey, take it in stride, even laughing at the antics of their Twitter doppelganger. Others, such as Steven Colbert and Ewan McGregor, are less amused, and take action.

Most recently, however, the potential for problems became clearer when Dr. Robert Schuller, the televanglist who founded the mega-populer Crystal Cathedral in southern California, attempted to register for a Twitter account, only to find out that there was already someone there, posing as him.

 

The account, only two weeks old, had already attracted almost 1000 followers, and the imposter was infringing on both the Crystal Cathedral’s copyrights and trademarks. Worse, the fake Dr. Schuller was talking to his nearly 1000 faithful followers, allowing them to believe that it was really Reverand Schuller with whom they were communicating.

As a spokesperson for the Crystal Cathedral pointed out, “The content seemed fairly normal for someone like Dr. Schuller to say. But in the future you don’t know how they’re going to use that. What if they start asking people to send money and say, ‘Send money to X,Y,Z’?”

Or worse.

Of course this all just brings it back to the bottom line, which is this: know who you are talking to before you decide that you know who you are talking to, if you know what we mean. In the end, this is just another form of identit theft, something which is far older than the Internet – same game, just a different forum.

Nine times out of ten, you are responsible for whether or not you are taken in by an imposter. It’s up to you to check out that who you are talking with really is who they say they are – and – if it’s impossible to know for sure, then you are responsible for deciding whether or not to believe them.

No Paywall Here!
The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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