Twitter Username: @randikarpinia
Account Owner Name: Chamberlin Okula
Actual Fact – this happened to me. You’ve probably heard of impostors claiming to be celebrities, brands or company big-shots on social media platforms. I learned the hard way that even us “relatively unknowns” can lose our social media identity to imposters.
I discovered the imposter as I was managing my own defensive social media platforms’ registration. As I “claimed” my given name and my business name on the various major social media platforms, I discovered that @randikarpinia was not available on Twitter. Confusing but true.
How can that be? Well it’s actually very simple. Anyone can claim any social media “handle” for free. If you don’t register your name, your business name and your brands on social media platforms, someone else may very well do so. There’s actually very little you can do to stop them if they grab the name first. Yes, Chamberlin Okula can own my Twitter handle. (Side note: I actually was able to deactivate the account – thank you Twitter.) Even if the owner is not using it, they have no incentive to transfer it to you.
This could cause serious confusion with your clients. A post by a convincing imposter can tarnish your reputation or weaken the value of your brand. Even if you are able to shut down the imposter, the online damage may be hard to undo.
Is there anything I can do if someone has claimed my name on social media platforms?
First, if you have trademarked the name, you may get some help from the social media website’s trademark infringement dispute resolution process. If you believe the owner is not using it and appears friendly, you can try requesting them to transfer to you or inactivate theirs. If you feel secure that the current owner will not tarnish your reputation, you can also simply select a slightly different variation of your name. After inactivating the @randikarpinia Twitter account, that’s exactly what I did. I set up an account as @rkarpinia in case I decide to become active on Twitter in the future.
Bottom line lesson: Even if you don’t have a marketing strategy that utilizes social media platforms, or you plan to just use one social media channel, you should claim (i.e. register) your personal name, your business name, and any brand names on all the major social media platforms. Your “future self” will be glad you did.
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