What Happens When Twitter Identities Are Mistaken, Faked Or Stolen

Hello everyone. I’m a huge fan of twitter and have been for many years, long before I started blogging.

I think part of the appeal of twitter is the anonymity it gives. Even when people use their real name and put pictures up of themselves, because the majority of  twitter users  use some level of anonymity it feels like real identities are more protected.

I personally welcome this anonymity. It allows me to present a better,  more confident side of myself and enables me to be more open about my mental health.

I can say I’m having a bad day and get the support of people who understand without worrying people close to me or having to worry about people I know on a causal basis finding out the weird things that go on in my head.

This anonymity does sometimes come at a price. When people use twitter they can easily forget there are real people behind the twitter identities.

This  can lead to peoples behavior towards other people  online becoming negative in a  way that they would not happen real life.  This is has been really evident in both my own interactions on twitter in the last few weeks and those of my twitter friends.

Mistaken Twitter Identities

A few weeks ago I had a very unusual tweet turn up in my notifications. A lady had jumped into a general conversation I was having about how I was spending the day with a comment that while not abusive was certainly not very complimentary towards me.

I replied to her asking what her tweet was about,  and what resulted was this lady posting several tweets about what a nasty person I was, how I was anti-disabilities and hated people on benefits.  Alongside being not very polite,  these accusations couldn’t be further from the truth.

I did a little investigating and quickly saw the lady had been involved in an argument the previous day with another user with a similar user name to me  and who held these views.

It took several attempts by myself and my friends to point out to the lady  that she had mistaken me for someone else, but in the end I did get a genuine apology once they realised so no lasting harm was done.

However if I had not have identified the root of the mistake so easily and had not had my awesome twitter friends to back me up, this lady could have easily continued to tweet slurs about me.

This little story highlights the soft end of twitter harassment. The lady did not question herself before having a go at me online. She did not feel the need to double-check who she was speaking about, or consider the validity or impact of her words because they were ‘just tweets’

Stolen Twitter Identities

What Happens When Twitter Identities Are Mistaken, Faked Or Stolen

I was lucky that my little twitter incident was done and dusted in a single morning. Unfortunately other friends of mine have had much worse.

Earlier this year my good friend Rachel who writes Our Rach Blogs  wrote a tweet about Big Brother. A particular twitter user tool offense at the tweet and this led to a prolonged and very nasty spell of online harassment, abuse and even death threats by the twitter user.

One of the tricks they played was to steal Rachels twitter identity. Day after day  other friends of Rachel and myself found ourselves followed by accounts claiming to be the ‘real’ Rachel. When we challeged these claims the person became abusive towards us.

Not only did this person try to imitate Rachel herself,  but they also set up fake accounts pretending to be regional police authorities in order to bully and harass her.

Now Rachel is an amazing kick ass woman who publicly dealt with the whole thing amazingly, but this type if bullying is relentless and wears even the strongest if people down.

Further more, many people who are at the receiving end of this type of behaviour are vulnerable to start with which is why they are targeted.

What Happens When Twitter Identities Are Mistaken, Faked Or Stolen

Online bullying can have catastrophic consequences.  Week on week the news reports on people who have taken their own lives as a result of cyber bullying.

Faked Twitter Identities

This might seem a bit of a contradictory term, as by my own admission twitter users tend to be anonymous.

However there is a difference between anonymity and pretending to be somebody you’re not and the latter tends to happen regularly on twitter.

I think most people reading this will be familiar with the term catfish.  It refers to someone who sets up a fake social media identity in order to pursue an online relationship.

The complexity of the fake lives these people create can be quite astounding and they are not always easy to spot.

I should know as I was duped by one very recently. A very good twitter friend of mine, Martyn  began an online friendship with a certain lady earlier this year.

Being naturally nosey intuative, I soon realised this friendship was developing into something more and I was genuinely pleased for both as they seamed well matched.

The lady in question portrayed herself as a vulnerable self-conscious person who had been emotionally abused in the past.

This is something I could relate to and as such our own friendship developed on and off of twitter. She would message on Whatsapp when she was having a bad day, and tell me about how her relationship with Martyn was developing.

It became apparent later on that this ‘friendship’ was as fake as her ‘relationship’ with Martyn. I had been used as a tool to add more credibility to her lies (that she loved him, but was scared to take the next step etc).

When the truth became evident I was left feeling very stupid and Martyn left devastated at the loss of what he had believed was a very real relationship. That was not the end of the story though.

What occured afterwards was an intense campaign of online stalking. She would set up 3 or 4 fake twitter profiles a week to spy on him and his twitter friends. Each time we blocked one another one appeared.

When it became apparent that stalking wasn’t going to work she adopted a new stratagy and began portraying herself as the victim and Martyn as an online predator who has used his  so called position of power to abuse her online.

The situation at the moment is not pleasant. A band of women have become involved with the catfish and under the guise of feminism have launched a campaign of harassment and bullying against Martyn. Articles have been written, slurs and accusations posted on twitter and veiled threats have been made.

These women are hiding behind their anonymous twitter identities whilst trying to destroy the reputation of a good, kind, honest man. I don’t think for a minute they give a fuck about the man behind the online identity they are slating, but each accusation and slur they throw at him leaves  real and lasting damage to his mental well-being.

What Can We Do?

As I have outlined above the misuse of online identities can lead to cyber bullying by allowing the bullies to not see the identity they are attacking as a real person and by giving them anonymity to hide behind.

People may think they are powerless to stop this bullying but there are things they can do. Firstly they can check their own behaviour. Make sure they check facts before sharing stories and tweets about other people.

Due to the case recently between rent-a-gob Katie Hopkins and blogger Jack Monroe people are beginning to become aware that there can be serious financial penalties to pay for tweeting lies, but what people are less aware of is the fact that when they share tweets or quote statements by other people that contain lies they are endorsing the lie and in doing so are at risk of being sued themselves.

Secondly people need  to remember there are real people behind the names they are tweeting. If a witty tweet will be like and retweeted by 9 people but at the expense of the 10th should it really be posted?

Thirdly people should be prepared to challenge online bullying where there see it. If they see something tweeted to or about someone that makes them think “thats out of order” say so.

Report abusive tweets and accounts that are trying to steal someone elses online identity. By backing up online friends who are receiving abuse people help to create a safer more pleasant environment for everyone.

I have to say this is something the twitter community I am a part of is very good at. The support that has been shown to Rachel and Martyn and myself in our respective situations has been brilliant, so for the most part this post can be seen as  preaching to the converted. However it is a really important message and one that needs to be shouted out loud.

Have you had experience of mistaken, stolen or fake twitter identities? Or have you been the victim of online bullying?

Scientific Fact* Anxious Dragons feed on blog comments. Please help keep this dragon well fed. Thank you Xxxx

*Possibly not true

41 Comments

  1. Michelle Kellogg

    September 7, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    I am so sorry to hear you guys have gone through this! I am not as active on twitter as far as personal tweets and such. I only use twitter for my blog and to help promote other bloggers but as for conversations, unless someone involves me in conversations, I most of the time don’t even see these things. I rarely even get your tweets in my feed, which is weird but I don’t really get the whole twitter feed stuff anyway. I have not personally been bullied but I have had men who claim to be American Soldiers who try to get me to feel sorry for them and send them money. That’s a pretty big scam over here in the states. I never fall for it but you’d be surprised how many women get scammed with this stuff. I was recently in an online relationship (I also met him in person though) and I wrote about that but it never turned into a bullying incident like what Martyn is dealing with. That is terrible. Can these people be reported on Twitter? I know you can report people on Facebook. I have done that for my niece who was being harassed and I’ve done that on a few other social media on behalf of her and a friend. I can’t stand bullies! I hate that these people have nothing better to do with their time than to harass someone they don’t know and what it really comes down to is they need to feel better about themselves and the only way they know how to do that is to make someone else miserable. The internet can be a scary place. If you ever need to talk Tracey, you know I’m here for ya:) #oldschoolposts

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      September 7, 2017 at 1:38 pm

      For the accounts that were bullying Rachel it was very easy to report on Twitter. The ones that were harassing Marty less so because the women running them were smarter and knew how to word tweets so they fell into the grey area of being harassing but not directly abusive. Their prime line was to refer to Marty and his blog but never actually mention his name so when challenged they would simply take the ‘we haven’t named anyone’ line

  2. Crummy Mummy

    May 1, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    Goodness I had no idea this kind of thing goes on – why do people bother??!! #twinklytuesday

  3. Annette, 3 Little Buttons

    May 1, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    Ohh I remember what happened to Rachel. I think it’s really easy to forget that there are people out there that go out of their way to do things like this. Poor Martin! It’s quite scary that can actually go on, and no one seems to be able to do anything about it. Thank you for sharing with the #DreamTeam. x

  4. Hannah Jane

    April 30, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    It’s so worrying to hear the depths people will go to bully and abuse people online, and to be honest I was unaware of actually how bad things can get for individuals. What has happened to you, Rachel and Martyn is completely unforgivable and I’m so pleased you’ve raised awareness of it with this post, I will most definitely be calling out any inexcusable behaviour I see on social media at any point in the future. Thank you for sharing with #bigpinklink x

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      April 30, 2017 at 6:35 pm

      If everybody does that we can make a difference 😊

  5. Lisa (mummascribbles)

    April 28, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    Such awful circumstances to such lovely people. I don’t know why people have to be such horrors. Why their lives are obviously so boring that they have to try and ruin others. I’m glad we have such a wonderful community to look out for us. Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      April 30, 2017 at 12:34 pm

      Some people have way too much tome on their hands. Xx

  6. Jo - Mother of Teenagers

    April 26, 2017 at 10:49 am

    A very informative if somewhat disturbing post. Thanks for sharing, I had no idea this kind of thing happened. #bigpinklink

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      April 26, 2017 at 11:30 am

      Luckily it doesnt usually happen too often, just an unfortunate spat if incidents at the same time x

  7. Muffin top mummy

    April 26, 2017 at 11:14 am

    I couldn’t agree more with this! Anyone who hides behind a computer and dishes out anything cruel or abusive is simply a coward with way too much time on their hands. I’ve seen bits & pieces of what you’ve described on Twitter, but now reading the whole picture I can only applaud the 3 of you for getting on and dealing with it. I hope they all get a life, stop trampling over feminism and leave you all the f alone 🙂 #dreamteam

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      April 26, 2017 at 11:31 am

      I believe the worst if the feminazi have backed off now from Marty, and I believe Rachel has dealt with her troll too xx

  8. Baby Isabella

    April 25, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    OMGosh, we heard about the bullying Martyn was receiving. Cyber bulling and trolling is rife and people sometimes forget there are real people that they hurt. #TwinklyTuesday

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      April 28, 2017 at 5:55 pm

      It was an unpleasant few weeks for sure. I think some people dont care about the people they hurt online xx

  9. Sarah

    April 25, 2017 at 10:43 am

    This is AWFUL!! I knew that things like this happens, but not as bad as that. Or maybe I was just being naive. How horrible xx

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      April 25, 2017 at 11:15 am

      Its not good, but there are still way more lovely people around than nasty ones xx

  10. Mum & Stuff

    April 24, 2017 at 8:04 pm

    I saw what happened to Rachel and also had to block the fake accounts from following me. The darker side to social media, like all aspects of life – you have to enjoy it but be aware! great post x #BigPinkLink

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      April 25, 2017 at 11:15 am

      Yes, thats very much the attitude to have xx

  11. Lucy At Home

    April 24, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    I am genuinely shocked! Stories like this just make me want to deactivate all my social media accounts and throw out my internet router! I knew about Rachel but had no idea about poor Martyn. It’s frightening. As you say, these people forget that there is a real person on the other side of the computer screen. It’s truly horrible!

    Let’s get this post shared and stop this vile practise from spreading

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      April 24, 2017 at 6:29 pm

      These last few weeks I have seen the worst of twitter, but for every troll ive seen out there I know a couple of dozen good, kind honest people. As long as we all back each other up we can keep our little patch of the internet a nice place to be xx

  12. jeremy - thirstydaddy

    April 24, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    I’ve never really spent a lot of time on twitter. I get some sports news from my personal account, but need to work harder at the ‘social” aspect of it. I hate how big a set people get from behind their screens. I’ve gotten to a lot of heated arguments on FB aver the past few months, but nothing compared to what happened to Rach and Martyn. Awful. #bigpinklink

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      April 24, 2017 at 6:33 pm

      I think most of the individuals Martyn has had trouble with can be found on both facebook and twitter, but I think they are possibly a little but more reigned in over there xx

  13. Rhyming with Wine

    April 24, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    Oh my word what on earth? I can’t believe that you’ve been going through this? I knew the initial part of Rachel’s story but didn’t know what had gone on to happen afterwards, and Martyn’s story is terrifying. Such a powerful and eye opening piece. x

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      April 24, 2017 at 6:34 pm

      The internet can be a scary place xx

  14. The Tale of Mummyhood

    April 24, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    I think it’s so sad that these people have nothing else better to do. Such a sorry state of affairs! Glad things go sorted #bigpinklink

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      April 24, 2017 at 6:35 pm

      Yes, it is not a good way to spend your days. I couldnt live with that much anger and hate x

  15. Fran Back With A Bump

    April 24, 2017 at 10:53 am

    Oh blimey, at least you finally got an apology. Poor Rach has allsorts of trolling and it’s just vile. Thanks for joining us for #marvmondays x

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      April 24, 2017 at 6:36 pm

      She really has seen the worst of twitter in the last few months x

  16. Heather Keet

    April 24, 2017 at 10:36 am

    I LOVE this post!!! Thank you for sharing your story, what that lady said was hideous and I only wish I had seen what she was saying about you in real time so I could help defend you! There does seem to be a lot of people who just enjoy heaping abuse on people from behind their twitter profile. #bigpinklink

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      April 25, 2017 at 9:16 pm

      Hopefully that particular lady will have learnt an important lesson about checking what and she is tweeting in future xx

  17. Jan

    April 24, 2017 at 10:31 am

    Bloody good post, lovely. And what awful experiences. Only had one such experience but it was disturbing at the time.

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      April 24, 2017 at 6:38 pm

      I have to say prior to the experiences I mentioned, I had never seen this side of twitter xx

  18. Naomi

    April 24, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Such a crazy set of circumstances all happening to the nicest of people. Sometimes I hate social media because stuff like this happens but on the other hand I get to meet awesome pepole like you. I’ll always have your back Trace x

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      April 24, 2017 at 6:37 pm

      We have such a great group of friends over on twitter. It is a privilege to be part of it xx

  19. Mummyof5miracles

    April 24, 2017 at 8:13 am

    Thank you for this post , it’s lovely to see such a big network of friends standing by each other and making sure they look after each other however it’s very sad to watch it happening to your friends. I wasn’t aware you had problems but I’m glad you have sorted them now. I’ve witnessed something Martyn went through the other day and it’s awful to watch
    Great post x

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      April 25, 2017 at 9:17 pm

      Im lucky my little incident was just a blip compared to what Marty and Rachel had to deal with. Fingers crossed I believe it has gone quiet for both atm xx

  20. Bear and Cardigan

    April 23, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    I didn’t know you had been targeted, so hugs from me. The twitter community that we are part of is fantastic. I drop in and out due to lack of time but always have a laugh and it’s such a supportive bunch. What’s happened to Martyn and Rachel is horrific and I do not think I would be as resilient as them.

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      April 23, 2017 at 9:33 pm

      I know I wouldn’t be, what they have had to deal with is really hard xx

  21. Plutonium Sox

    April 23, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    Amazing post. Great advice for us all to make sure we do what we can to support victims of behaviour like this. I didn’t know that happened to you, I’m sorry you went through that.
    Nat.x

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      April 23, 2017 at 10:24 pm

      My incident was really just a little blip compared to Marty and Rachel xx

  22. Pickinguptoys

    April 23, 2017 at 9:43 pm

    Shocking what people get out of deceiving & hurting others.You know that it goes on but you like to think people are as genuine as you are.Im pleased that we are there to back each other up.Such a great support network x

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