Local, Sales and marketing

Bankwest stung by Twitter impersonator

Cara Waters /

A false Twitter account claiming to be that of a senior Bankwest executive has caused a headache for the bank and illustrated the importance of monitoring social media for business.

 

The Australian Financial Review reports that Bankwest had to follow a costly and complex process to shut the impersonator’s account down and remove the tweets.

 

If the comments had been made on a news site, the bank told the newspaper, it would have obtained a court injunction to uncover the impersonator, but it was left hamstrung by the Twitter impersonator.

 

A spokesperson for Bankwest told SmartCompany the bank picked up the comments through social media monitoring.

 

Catriona Pollard, director of CP Communications, told SmartCompany that Bankwest’s predicament demonstrated the need for business to monitor social media.

 

“This is not a reason not to use social media for your business, the benefits far outweigh the negatives,” she says.

 

“If you have used social media over a period of time and you have built your reputation, if something negative like this happens you are in a much better place than if you are not using it at all.

 

“Reputation is the new currency and you need a bucket load of it to work for social media.”

 

Twitter’s website details a process for reporting Twitter impersonators and users who have enough celebrity status can get the imprimatur from Twitter of a blue tick, which indicates the account has been “verified” to ensure it is genuine.

 

“Twitter has clear steps around how to report impersonation. It is actively managing it but how they process, and the length of time it takes to process it, is another matter,” Pollard says.

 

Pollard recommends to her clients that they claim their own name on social media, although she says this would not necessarily stop an impersonator who just needs to spell a name slightly differently.

 

“I tell people to claim your name even if you are not going to use it anyway across all social media platforms as well as your own domain,” she says.

 

“I think that’s a good thing to do as a matter of course as an individual; that’s not necessarily a company’s responsibility, I think that smart people do that.

 

“Just claiming your name will not stop impersonation, you need to make sure you have monitoring happening.”

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Cara Waters

Cara Waters is the former editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Cara was a senior reporter at the Financial Times website FT Adviser in London and she also worked for The Sunday Times in London.

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