The week in fake social media accounts

Three character, first-name handles are rare in the online world, and I’ve got a 💯 one on Instagram: @tim. But having one’s not all roses and puppies (though, frankly, it is quite a few puppies, but that’s a topic for a future post). There’s also thousands of mistaken tags, and an inordinate number of 12 year old boys thirsty for my screenname (Hello, all people named Tim!).

Then, there are the fake accounts.

What distinguishes a fake account from a real one? Often, it’s a mishmash of factors: no profile picture, a spam link in the bio, random assortments of digits in the handle, or even just content targeted towards an oddly specific segment of a particular interest group.

This week in fake social media accounts was defined by:

This cropped, zoomed image of three Instagram profiles shows the repetitive handles used by fake accounts in the form "first name" "dot" "last name" "underscore" "two digit number"

1. Handles with broadly Eastern European (Russian? Ukrainian? Belarusian?) names in the form <first name>.<last name>_##

This zoomed, cropped image of three Instagram profiles shows three profile pictures of cars

2. Profile pics of classic cars, for some reason

This zoomed, cropped image of three Instagram profiles shows stolen, duplicated content of rock climbers on ostensibly unique accounts

3. Each profile containing obviously stolen and duplicated content

I note all this not because there’s some substantial injury taking place–though I bet the original creators of those climbing videos would not appreciate their content being stolen–but because I want a world where we can trust what we find on these social media platforms. Am I asking for too much?