Resolved: My Very Own Twitter Impersonator

UPDATE, 7 JAN 2013: THANK YOU FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES EVERYWHERE. THIS PROBLEM HAS BEEN RESOLVED THANKS TO YOU. I AM NOW @FILEMAKERHACKS ON TWITTER. I CANNOT BEGIN TO EXPRESS MY GRATITUDE AND APPRECIATION.

Dear Friends, Colleagues and Fellow FileMaker Enthusiasts,

You know the old saying that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? Well, I’m here to tell you that having experienced it first hand, I’m not feeling even remotely flattered. Pissed off? Yes. Violated? Yes. But not flattered, and not amused. Here’s the short version:

Me:

1-6-2013 3-36-38 PM

The Impostor:

1-6-2013 3-38-08 PM

Here’s a longer version: Last year a colleague wrote to ask why I wasn’t using my logo on my Twitter postings. Me: “I don’t do Twitter.” Him: “Sure you do, I’m one of your followers!”

Now it so happens that I don’t care for Twitter in particular, or social media in general. I am reclusive by nature, and try to limit my online persona to my web site, this blog, and participation in a few FileMaker discussion forums.

I’ve done a bit of reading about Twitter impersonation, and it’s very difficult to get Twitter to suspend an account, regardless of how much damage it may be doing to the person being impersonated. Basically, I would have to prove that this person is “actively misleading users or claiming to be affiliated with or owned by your company.” Nonetheless, I belatedly registered @fmhacks and attempted to resolve the issue via standard Twitter channels… which accomplished very little. 

As a result of my complaints, Twitter did apparently contact this person, because he/she masked the URL — it used to be a straight pointer to http://www.filemakerhacks.com, now it’s  http://bit.ly/qu81JP — and also changed his/her display name from “FileMakerHacks” to “FileMakerHack”.

My biggest concern at the moment is that a number of followers in the Twitterverse are under the impression that they are interacting with me, and that I make moronic requests like this…

1-6-2013 3-41-23 PM

…or banter thus:

1-6-2013 3-47-04 PM

Here are some responses I received when I shared my concerns with a few colleagues:

First, I thought @filemakerhacks was you, dude! Finding out that it’s not is a big surprise. I would definitely blog about the issue, and in that blog post I think I might put something along the lines of: “If you appreciate these blog posts, please contact @filemakerhacks and ask that person to stop impersonating me.” Something along those lines. I, for one, would gladly contact Twitter on your behalf and complain.

Sorry to hear about this. It always astounds me how anyone can derive pleasure from being malicious and dishonest.

One thing you can do is just flag them as spam in your twitter client, and start a campaign to get other people to do the same thing. They suspend accounts pretty quickly when they get spam notices that they can verify (I’m just suggesting that that might get you into a different channel more willing to use an axe).

I have to chime in, even though I’ve never tweeted and may not be able to contribute anything except moral support. I’m dumfounded. Appalled. Outraged. I was sputtering as I read your message. Talk about leaving no good deed unpunished. After all you’ve contributed to the FileMaker community over the years, from early helpful Anchor-Buoy presentations, to the many informative posts on FileMaker Hacks (yes, I read and archive every one), this impostor has some nerve. Please let me know what I can do to help get the offender’s Twitter account suspended. I’d even create an account myself if that would enable me to do something useful on your behalf. Do post about it to your blog, as an article, on the Home and About pages. Please don’t suffer in silence!

Without being melodramatic, I will say that I have lost sleep over this, felt demoralized, and wondered whether I ought to simply shut this blog down and move on with my life. It has consumed many, many hours of my life, and I have no doubt whatsoever that the quality (and frequency) of my postings here on FileMaker Hacks has suffered as a direct result of this impersonation.

This site currently gets between 300 and 1200 hits per day, so I know at least a few people in the FileMaker Community consider it to be a worthwhile resource. It’s a part of who I am, and I still have things I want to write about. And of course it’s not just me: Beverly Voth, Bruce Robertson, Jason DeLooze, Geoff Gerhard, Andries Heylen, John Ahn, Osamu Noda and John Weinshel have made substantial contributions to this blog… both directly and indirectly. (Apologies to anyone I’ve forgotten.) And I get so much back in return; I am a better FileMaker developer because of the comments, corrections and demo files you share publicly and privately.

UPDATE, 12 JAN 2013: Since I am now the owner of the @filemakerhacks Twitter handle, and the problem has been resolved, I have removed a couple paragraphs from the original posting to avoid causing confusion.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Regards,
Kevin Frank

46 thoughts on “Resolved: My Very Own Twitter Impersonator

  1. Lee Lukehart

    How disturbing a discovery, Kevin! But a hat-tip to you for responding with your characteristic benevolent style. I have not found the correct Twitter channel to report this as an interested party; the appropriate links (Impersonation, Trademark violation, and perhaps Name Squatting) all say that Twitter will respond only to you, the owner. I will indeed let all my arrows fly in your defense, but I want to be sure they hit the mark. If you’d like us to file complaints in those sections anyway, please let us know!

    Reply
  2. Lee Lukehart

    A follow-up from my prior post, Kevin, this time recommending an offensive position: If you wish to protect your brand (whether personal or professional), it’s a good idea to proactively reserve the term or username as broadly as possible — even if you have no intent of using those services. For example, I note that the usernames FileMakerHacks and FMHacks are already taken on StumbleUpon, photobucket, epinions, yfrog and Tripit. Are these your accounts?

    I’ll contact you back-channel with a few of the tools I use for this purpose.

    ~ Lee

    Reply
  3. Bruce Robertson

    Kevin, your contributions to this community have been clear and thorough and are done with great quality and depth. Please don’t let the spammer discourage you.

    I’m sorry to see that this is going on. I’ll try to find my own path to helping stop the abuse.

    Bruce

    Reply
  4. Michael Rocharde

    As of this morning, he had 296 followers. I’ve been systematically sending this tweet to each of them:

    “You’re not following Kevin Frank, the real author of FileMaker Hacks. This is an imposter. Pse stop following him. Thanks”

    Reply
  5. Matt Lygo

    Kevin

    I’ve never commented on your blog, but read every post avidly and have learned much from it. (I still also refer back to your anchor-buoy page).

    Like many others I’ve been following @FileMakerHacks on Twitter under the mistaken belief that it was you. However, I note his / her profile has been changed and has a new tweet as of a few minutes ago: “Sorry. Started as media project w/RSS feed and h/t to @FMhacks; got out of hand. ! trying 2 steal ID. Links all go to Blog, not $.” So it seems that the steps you’ve taken so far are having some effect at least.

    Good luck, and do keep us informed of your progress.

    Matt

    Reply
  6. Barb Levine

    Kevin, I am sorry for the trouble that this imposter has caused you, and glad that you have taken this public. Please report back here with any suggested tactics for your allies.

    Lee and Bruce, let us know if you find any promising approaches.

    Thanks,
    Barb

    Reply
  7. Jim Taylor

    Kevin – I would be happy to do whatever I can for you – however, after reading Twitter’s criteria re: impersonation reports, it seems there’s not much any of us can do on your behalf (as Lee has stated above). I do share your disdain for the social media in general and this situation only reinforces my attitude. By all means let us know what we can do going forward. Continued thanks for all your contributions to the Filemaker community!

    Jim

    Reply
  8. Tom RuBane

    Kevin,

    This is one of my favorite FileMaker blogs and I find all of your posts to be very useful and informative. I’m sorry to hear of your twitter trouble, but I hope you won’t give up blogging because of it.

    Best regards,

    Tom

    Reply
  9. Kevin Frank Post author

    Folks, the supportive comments both here and elsewhere have been much appreciated. Thank you so much.

    Reply
  10. Brian Schick

    Kevin,

    Very sorry to hear of the grief this has given you. I’ve just blocked and reported the impersonator. (FWIW, he’s apparently just added “Not @fmhacks” to his profile).

    I’d also like to add my voice to the growing chorus and affirm how much I appreciate your work at filemaker hacks. Your recent SQL posts in particular have been exceptionally informative and inspiring. As a member of the Beezwax blogging team, I can tell you that your work is frequently held up as a gold standard we aspire towards in crafting our own posts.

    Again, thanks so much for your ongoing contributions to our community. Keep the faith.

    Best regards,
    Brian

    Reply
  11. Katherine Simpson

    I’ve generated a good share of the hits you get on this blog, and I marvel all the time at the time you’ve clearly spent *sharing* incredibly valuable information and techniques to lurkers like me. I have a Twitter account but have never Tweeted–I’ll get my feet wet following Michael Rocharde’s approach, because I think it gets to the heart of the matter.

    I have no right to ask anything of you in return, but please do not shut down your blog. It would be a sad day.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Frank Post author

      Thanks so much Katherine. I have *no* intention of shutting this blog down. Was just expressing frustration.

      Reply
  12. HOnza

    Oh. Kevin, sorry to read this. Things like this are making me angry. Just thinking about what will be the best thing to do to help you. I used to be good in tracking spammers but that was a long time ago. I’ll see if I can come up with something. In any case, dońt let this take you down and keep up the good work!

    Reply
  13. Steve

    Kevin,
    So encouraging to read in ‘print’ the appreciation of your time and effort in being willing to share your voluminous knowledge with ‘the rest’ of us FM’ers.
    Twitter……..schmitter…………
    :))

    Reply
  14. Patrick

    Hello Kevin,

    This is the first time for me to leave a reply. I’m glad to read that this person already has disappeared. I love to read your amazing blog. Every now and then I attend people to this blog when they are discussing a problem on clarify.net.

    Reply
  15. HOnza

    The account is still active, just changed twitter handle to @filemakerhack and full name to “FM hack”. That’s a bit better but may be still confusing enough to make people think it’s you. But he seems to be responsive at least, so I suggest asking him to differentiate himself from you more clearly, including providing more descriptive description of the Twitter profile, and changing the name to differ by more than a single letter.

    Reply
  16. Josh Ormond

    Wow guys. You must have some serious intimidation factor. He has completely changed the name now. @filemakerprose

    Great job everyone. Congrats KF. Missing you on the FNC.

    Reply
  17. Daniel Wood

    Hi Kevin, glad to hear it is all cleared up and you have reclaimed the rightful filemakerhacks account. Don’t be discouraged by this type of thing, you have the full support of the FileMaker community behind you unlike the imposter. I look forward to more posts in the future!

    Reply
    1. Kevin Frank Post author

      Thanks Karen. As per my 7 January update at the top of the posting, the person holding the account released it, and I now have possession of it.

      Regards,
      Kevin

      Reply
  18. Stan Millar

    Kevin

    I don’t often come directly to your blog but read avidly all your posts via email.

    Keep up the good work. I, and many, many others appreciate your well structured and explained posts.

    I don’t like social media at all…

    Only have a Facebook account because it’s required for an organisation where I am the National Secretary. Ev3n then, I get lots of spam “Do you know”

    Reply

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