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Imitation is the Weirdest Form of Flattery

Twitter Imitation

Many of you, reading here, will have had your facebook profile cloned. Some of you have had your social media profile hacked.

I’ve had some disconcerting and upsetting experiences online, but recently I had my twitter profile cloned – a new experience! Thanks for the vigilance of the online Liturgy community. And thanks to Twitter for dealing with this and suspending the account within a couple of days.

Lots of people have had the experience of having their facebook profile cloned. One of the best ways of preventing that is by hiding your list of friends.

By default, everyone can see the Friends section of your profile. To adjust who can see your Facebook Friends section:
Go to your profile
Click Friends below your cover photo
Click and select Edit Privacy from the dropdown menu
Select an audience to choose who you share your friend list with on your profile – my suggestion is to set this as privately as possible, that way another person cannot harvest your friend list and use them to set up their own cloned profile.

All this does not really apply to Twitter – which essentially is (public) microblogging [Yes – you can make your Twitter posts private – just like you can set a blog to be viewed only by those you allow to view it].

So this imitator completely cloned my Twitter profile. They didn’t simply retweet from my actual account, they copied tweets – that, hence, included downloading and re-uploading images. There was not a drop of original content.

I was blocked by my impersonator, so I couldn’t see the list of who they were following [you can, of course, still view a blocked Twitter profile by using an incognito/private page on your browser – remember it’s public microblogging]. As soon as a person followed my impersonator back, they received a DM (direct message) – something like:

Greetings beloved in Christ! How are you doing?

If the person responded back to this DM, they got another reply quoting a lot of the Scriptures and calling them “Beloved” a lot and asking if they were ready to take the leap into true faith in Christ.

One of my favourite responses from people who contacted me was that it was the mostly talking in Biblical quotes that gave the show away for them: “that’s how I knew they probably weren’t a real priest!” ROTFWL!

If the person questioned my clone why there was a second Twitter account, with far fewer followers (than my actual Twitter account), they were told, “This is my personal account that I use for counselling those who want to go deeper in Christ.”

People, thankfully, soon realised this all just didn’t sound like me and got in touch with me. As soon as they let on to the imitator that they knew this wasn’t authentic, they were blocked.

To Twitter, I had to prove that I am who I say I am. Others reporting the impersonator to Twitter, I’m sure you helped remove this profile. One person sent me a screenshot (I expect from their phone) – it had a message from (the real) me followed by one from the impersonator. Boy would I have been taken in that they were from the same source! So well done, people!

I have no idea what this person was angling to get out of this.

Tell us your story of being impersonated or hacked on social media.

If you appreciated this post, do remember to like the liturgy facebook page, use the RSS feed, and sign up for a not-very-often email, …Oh – and follow me on Twitter (the real me… maybe I should apply for Twitter’s blue tick that I am who I say I am…)

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9 Responses to Imitation is the Weirdest Form of Flattery

  1. In the short time I have been on this page. The Red Flag for me that something was amiss is Greeting beloved in Christ, How are you going? Your personal written style doesn’t include this way of asking a question! Thanks for the tips on setting the privacy on Facebook Bosco, Ruth

    • Thanks, Ruth. Well spotted! I stand in the tradition of (the later) Thomas Merton – holiness is found in the ordinary. We don’t need to use “pious” language to decorate our conversations – and I have a natural suspicion of those who do… Blessings.

      • Thomas Merton is a great poet among his other writing.
        Today, I have received 2 posts from facebook regarding my understanding of the privacy on Facebook! BLESSED

  2. You would be appalled by so much here in the USA Bosco, churches are just businesses which don’t pay taxes. Same with many hospitals.

    Honor is not a value. Greed apparently is now.

    The USA looks like a modern country with all the frou frou and high maintenance modern technology, but it’s really not a modern country at all, and the government gets worse year on year.

    Social media I think on balance is evil. There was a capacity to do good but all the evil forces of this world since invaded.

    Sign up to any website which is not totally modified and the ‘troll’ appears by the third post.

    I used to say ‘who are these people’ but I am guessing no they are computer programs.

    • Yes – Tracy. Someone wondered if my impersonator was a bot/computer program – but I don’t think so. Blessings.

  3. I don’t know which is more depressing, the thought of someone squandering their talents on developing a computer program to harass, or someone harassing you ( and your friends ) directly.

    The world is a pernicious cruel and evil place, every thing which springs from hope or goodness is soon corrupted by the handful of damaged individuals

    Then others spring up to try to counteract their behaviors, well in an educated society at least…

    But now in the USA we have had several decades of useless presidents and corporate business takeover of the government.

    Donald Trump is now our president for no other reason than his opponent Hilary Clinton was reviled as the more self-seeking, and apparently it should have been Bernie Sanders against Trump according to some news sources.

    News here is largely referred to as ‘fake news’ by the way. And even the British BBC is not immune.

    We recently had the worst ever floods in Houston and hurricane damage across Texas. It could easily have been another Katrina ( many homes are one story and the water reached to the ceiling ) except in this case ordinary citizens who had been anticipating the catastrophe ( this is the third subsequent year Houston flooded badly, thought to be a consequence of global warming stronger storms ) ordinary citizens rescued all the people trapped in their homes.

    Well one BBC correspondent decided to report it as a failure to help those in need, that’s totally not what happened. Katrina lost well over a thousand drowned lives, 83 from all causes ( including drowning ) here though it was the worst flood in US history.

    I wrote to the BBC and set them straight, but honestly- everything filtered down from the internet is probably so open to interpretation as to be ultimately rendered fake.

    The things we have to watch out for most in my mind are the sexual corruption, which is abuse of vulnerable women and abuse of children.

    Because of ‘political correctness’ we are giving such people a free pass. I am starting to wonder if that’s why so many businesses get into what they do, are they all pedophiles and rapists?

  4. I know I sound hysterical, well I have never been so frightened in my life. I have been through a natural disaster before, but nothing like this.

    But it has made me see what duress so many suffer every day, at the mercy of the evil, the greedy, the people with appetites for evil things.

    No one speaks out against them, and they can even become president whilst saying obnoxious abusive things on social media!

    where will it all end?

  5. Action is the one thing we don’t get much of in America in recent years. Massive shooting in Las Vegas last week, nearly 600 people killed or wounded. Usual mutterings about there should be gun control but sales of similar weapons soar following these incidents. I don’t even know who buys them to be honest, I’ve been here all these years and never ever seen an assault weapon or rifle. No one I know collects them. But apparently some people stockpile them then go out and do a mass shooting, and their purchase of all these weapons and ammunition is seen as ‘a hobby’…doesn’t register on anyone’s radar as weird. So no action is taken- on any level.

    An incident like this is all over the news for about five days ( interspersed with trivial advertising every ten minutes which to my mind should be suspended, it’s distasteful in such circumstances ) then on to the next thing, nothing ever seems to be addressed properly.

    I was throwing away old papers a few weeks ago and found a letter from UK PM John Major, it was about the Dunblane murders in Scotland which brought about gun control laws in the UK. He was PM 1990 to 1997, but when Tony Blair took over the job things changed, if I wrote to his government all I got back were computer print-outs nothing responding to or addressing the issue.

    If I write to a politician in Texas I am placed on their fund-raising campaign and receive an email saying ‘thanks for your support of…’ The former mayor here Bill White who retired in 2010 after he lost the state governor election was the only person I ever got a proper response from. He would have been a good governor.

    The current governor recently tried to block the use of ‘rainy day’ funds to recover our seriously flood-damaged city so I doubt we’ll see much action from him on engineering solutions. The current mayor told him ‘if this is not a rainy day I don’t know what is’ but it begs the question- what exactly are these funds going to be used for then. It’s taxpayer money. Houston is america’s third or fourth biggest city, and Texas contributes massively to the economy of the nation. This is the third year Houston flooded, an engineering solution is clearly required, why isn’t it happening?

    If indeed there are even people with the skills to design and undertake these things- degrees take longer than ever then the young person graduates with massive debt and few useful skills!

    The only action I see happening is the massive profit of a few at the massive cost to society, and the brainwashing of the many to accept such conditions.

    You’ve been going through the book of Matthew. ‘Whitewashed sepulchers’, maybe nothing much has changed.

    Evil, corrupt and immoral people just keep rising up and taking control.

    Goodness, I said all these things 30 plus years ago, I expected the world to be so much more advanced by now!

    And I suspect religion is one of the reasons.

    You are the rarest of people Bosco, a scientific mind and learned but devout. Plus you have been through ‘the refiner’s fire’ yourself, you know every human experience which is denied to many religions, their teachers and preachers live in a bubble away from basic human experiences maybe?

    And as for politicians, I am starting to think all they care about is ego and an unreasonable amount of wealth. They are personality disordered.

    There is no action to serve the many because the vested interests are still the same as in the dark ages. Serve the few.

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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