Things are not always what they seem.
At least on Twitter.
But Shel Holtz has perhaps the best discussion of the fracas in his blog. He calls it brandjacking. (BTW, Shel was the first to alert Exxon’s PR team of the situation. He emailed Exxon to congratulate them for joining Twitter. Exxon is his client.)
From the coverage in the Houston Chronicle this morning, it appears Exxon hasn’t yet asked Twitter to remove the prankster’s Exxon account. Twitter co-founder Biz Stone told the Chronicle, “Exxon can contact Twitter if they believe there is a case of impersonation, and we will review the account.” He also told the paper that the site has a policy that supports company trademarks and brands.
I can attest the Stone’s policy is as he described to the Chronicle.
A few months ago, the Corp. Comm. team I work with at Sprint Nextel Corp. discovered someone had brandjacked Sprint on Twitter. All it took was a quick email to Twitter using a process described in their Terms of Service. Crystal Taylor at Twitter (no relation) acted in less than a day on our request once it got in her hands. Fortunately for Sprint, the false account was only active for about 2 days and only attracted about 30 followers.
As of this morning, there are 324 Twitter users “following” the fake Exxon Twitter feed. This is interesting to me. While I’m no IP lawyer, don’t the holders of trademarks and copyrights have to defend them under U.S. law? In this morning’s Chronicle story, Exxon indicated that they may not take control of the account.
BTW, the Twitterati had some clues that the account was a phony — in one Tweet, the prankster refers to the company as Exxon Mobile (sic).
So my question is this: are you safeguarding your company’s intellectual property online?
p.s. This 1993 New Yorker cartoon that Dwight Silverman included in his blog pretty much sums up the lesson here.
p.s. Exxon Mobil is still asleep. I just spotted this Exxon twitter feed. Don’t worry Exxon, he’s some Swedish dude who likes to dive. No mention of big oil. Yet. But you better not spill any oil on some dive site in Belize. 😉