Social Media Identity Theft Hits Facebook; Stolen Identities Up For Sale

Identity Theft isn’t just something that impacts your bank account or credit card.  Your brand or trademark can be hijacked in social media and on the web as well, and we’ve seen it thousands of times here at KnowEm.  Most recently, according to PCWorld, a hacker named Kirllos has offered up for sale 1.5 million Facebook user accounts.  Facebook hasn’t confirmed that this is a verified hack or if Kirllos’ claims are actually legitimate, but the fact that there is a market at all for claimed usernames should give you an idea what their value is worth.

The stolen Facebook identities are offered for sale at between $25 to $45 per 1,000 accounts, making them go for as little as $0.025 per username.  But imagine if one of those stolen names was the name of your brand or trademark term?  How valuable is it for you to control your name on the web? Now think about the intellectual property value being lost, and how much it might cost in legal fees to wrestle it back under your control.

At KnowEm we often see brandjacked names in social media being used to hawk counterfeit products or promote affiliate links to questionable landing pages which are obviously not under the company’s control.   Someone will register a brand name on a popular social media site (and there are hundreds of them) and then use it for their own purposes.  After all, if you were a consumer and saw a brand name you were researching had an account on Twitter, wouldn’t you just assume it was that brand, and trust any links they published?  Thousands of people do every day.

Even if the Facebook hacker’s claims aren’t legitimate, social media identity theft is a real threat and should be a major concern for anyone using a unique name on the web. And after all, isn’t that everyone?

brandjacking, facebook, Identity Theft, Intellectual Property, Social Media, stolen usernames


3 Responses to “Social Media Identity Theft Hits Facebook; Stolen Identities Up For Sale”

  1. andrea on June 15th, 2011 9:32 am

    Hi Barry,

    interesting article!

    I wonder about how to cope with it. From my point of view, there are some different cases that would be treated in different ways.

    One, it’s a brand account that exists in social networks and later, it’s robbed by someone. So, the company has been stolen by this user. However, the user intention is malicious.

    Other case, it’s a person that opens a new profile with a brand name, because it’s not yet being in use. Later, when the company finally decides to open his own profile, he notices that it’s been being used by someone. The company should recover his brand, despite there was not malicious intention. Indeed, this user could be a evangelist of the brand.

    What’s the best way to do it?

    It’s important to take care of this kind of users, because they have been spreading your brand while you was of the social network system.

    So, how to cope with it?

    What’s your opinion?

    Some experience?

    Thanks a lot!

  2. Barry Wise on July 6th, 2011 12:53 am

    Really the only option here is to contact the social network in question and ask for the name back. If they don’t, then you have to seek legal guidance in doing so.

  3. Alex on July 8th, 2013 3:18 pm

    The last paragraph in this article really speaks volumes! There should absolutely be a major concern because as the debate with social media and identity theft continues to gain steam, there are users being hacked throughout the entire world. The potential to be hacked is there and the threat is real, so please be careful when traveling the social media highway.

Social Media Identity Theft Hits Facebook; Stolen…

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