Celebrity Power Fuels False Twitter Accounts

The recent bout of “Bieber Fever” to hit South Africa, which saw desperate fans queueing for up to sixteen hours to secure tickets to Bieber’s 2013 South African shows, reminds us of the powerful pull of celebrities.
Twitter users love to follow celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Bieber, Cristiano Ronaldo and Barack Obama are among those most impersonated on Twitter. According to Luis Corrons, technical director of PandaLabs, “soccer stars like Cristiano Ronaldo have many fake profiles on Twitter, some of them with more than 15,000 followers and which include the word official, although the tweets are in Swahili.”

Fake Cristiano Ronaldo Twitter profile with more than 15,000 followers: http://press.pandasecurity.com/usa/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/CR7.jpg

The US President, Barack Obama, also has a fake profile on the social network – and despite this including a link to a Russian page, “he” has managed to attract more than 91,000 followers.

Fake Obama profile on Twitter: http://press.pandasecurity.com/usa/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/OBAMA.jpg
However, the undisputed King of Fake Profiles right now is Justin Bieber. The young teen idol has many fake profiles created by his fans; yet others have been created that do not have such innocent objectives. It seems that simply including the singer’s name in a Twitter profile is synonymous with an avalanche of followers. Some of his profiles, with just two tweets from over three years ago, have more than 491,000 followers.

Fake Justin Bieber Twitter profile with more than 491,000 followers: http://press.pandasecurity.com/usa/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/JUSTINBIEBER.jpg

“Due to its huge popularity, Twitter is one of the social networks on which more attacks are launched to compromise the security of users’ computers. Cyber-criminals take advantage of the popularity of some celebrities to attract followers to whom to send malware and spam through their tweets,” says Corrons. “If you’ve received this type of message from the account of a celebrity that you follow, it’s advisable not to open it under any circumstances; rather unfollow the sender of the message and scan the computer using an antivirus.”
To make sure you are following a legitimate person ensure that the page features a blue verification badge alongside the profile. The badge will appear in the top right of the user profile just above the name, location and bio. Remember, if it appears anywhere else on the profile page of a user (such as in the avatar or in the background) then the account has not been verified! Twitter is constantly proactively verifying accounts, focusing on the most searched for users and does not accept verification requests from the general public.

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