How Someone Pretended To Be HJ Heinz On Twitter

from the and-then-someone-woke-up dept

A little over a year ago, we wrote about the issue of Twitter squatters sitting on famous brand names, while the actual brands were totally unaware. In that post we wondered if there needed to be a "Twitter name dispute resolution policy." So far, there hasn't been much movement on that front, as the dispute resolution policy has basically been the benevolent dictatorship of some anonymous employees at Twitter, who may or may not step in to deal with such an issue in a unilateral fashion. So it's interesting to see this AdAge piece by a guy who decided to see what would happen if he became a Twitter squatter. After looking through various brands he decided to pretend to be the Twitter representative for HJ Heinz, famous for its ketchup and pickles, among other things.

Basically, he set himself up to be @HJ_Heinz and started sending messages of a positive nature about Heinz. He started cultivating a following, watching for anyone who mentioned Heinz and also trying to connect with those in the Pittsburgh area (home of Heinz). It lasted all of two weeks until he logged in and found that his account name had been changed to @NOThj_Heinz, along with a note from Twitter saying that he had violated Twitter's rules. At least they let him keep the account.

What's interesting, though, is that it still took Heinz itself two weeks to notice the account and do something about it. Heinz provided AdAge with a statement in response to the article, which falsely suggests that the original account was "closed" (rather than just had its name changed). Still, the company claims it came across it via its "regular monitoring practices," but if you're just monitoring social networks, you're missing the point of them, which is to actively engage. If Heinz were actively making use of the tools it wouldn't have taken so long to notice the squatted account.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Feb 16th, 2010 @ 8:03pm

    Two weeks is just about long enough for the Twitter account to show up in search results. I bet whomever found it wasn't monitoring social networks, per se, just using a random search engine and thinking they were savvy.

     

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  2.  
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    the real CHRoNoSS, Feb 16th, 2010 @ 8:07pm

    this looks like google dont it

    http://64.233.169.101/

    ive got three more of them hanging around at me.
    wonder if a nice reciprocal denial of service form 5000 hackers would give someone the message to fuck off?

    and if its google fuck off again your not wanted cause i have my own search engine thanks
    i dont care about traffic i use word of mouth and a large network of friends thank you very much

    ive no need for your world
    you need us
    not other way around

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 16th, 2010 @ 8:11pm

    If claiming someones identity becomes a serious enough problem the free market would solve it by having everyone (famous) have a public/private key pair and requiring that signatures be made to validate someones identity or else no one would believe that a claimed person was the real source of information.

    In the case of a famous person the famous person can announce their public key on Youtube.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 16th, 2010 @ 8:57pm

    Why did Heinz even do something?

    It seems to me that he helped brand recognition and did nothing but purely positive stuff for the company, taking action like this just makes them look bad IMO.

     

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  5.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Feb 16th, 2010 @ 9:55pm

    Re:

    Two weeks is just about long enough for the Twitter account to show up in search results. I bet whomever found it wasn't monitoring social networks, per se, just using a random search engine and thinking they were savvy.

    I don't think that's right. First of all, Twitter has its own search engine, which gives results within seconds. Second, if you're really using a tool like Tweetdeck, you have persistent searches so you'd know almost immediately.

    And even if they were just searching Google or even Bing, both now have deals with Twitter for real time results, so the results show up within seconds, not two weeks...

     

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  6.  
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    Forge, Feb 16th, 2010 @ 9:58pm

    Re: this looks like google dont it

    WTF are you on about?

    Did you comment on the wrong article?

     

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  7.  
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    Joe (profile), Feb 16th, 2010 @ 10:40pm

    Re: Why did Heinz even do something?

    Making it clear that he's NOT a representative for the company is a bad thing? It's not like they are trying to sue him, they are just making sure that people know he's not working for Heinz.

    Is it a missed marketing opportunity? Perhaps, but I think it was very smart of them to make it be known that this guy doesn't work for Heinz and doesn't actually represent the company. I mean, if he was building a following and then one day turned on the company, that would have looked pretty bad for them, wouldn't you agree?

    I think it's pretty interesting that Twitter didn't remove the account though. They could have easily done so (and I'm sure they HAVE done so on a regular basis), but instead just renamed it.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2010 @ 12:15am

    Re: Re: Why did Heinz even do something?

    That's fair, I guess a better question would be why did they approach it in that manner?

    Why didn't Heinz talk to the guy first?

    In the business world you make a lot of enemies if you go over someone's head before talking to them to try and work out a problem so couldn't they have contacted the guy and asked nicely first?

    This just seems one step below sending a summons is all.

     

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  9.  
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    Dementia (profile), Feb 17th, 2010 @ 3:35am

    Re: Re: Why did Heinz even do something?

    So, here's a nother question. Is there more than one HJ Heinz in the world? What if this just happened to be someone with the same name who liked their products? Would it be fair then to just rename the account NOT HJ Heinz when he really was HJ Heinz? Shouldn't they have at least asked him about it to begin with?

     

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  10.  
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    Matt (profile), Feb 17th, 2010 @ 4:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Why did Heinz even do something?

    You would think but its a corporation and we all know they have more power than the people so either way it would have been changed.

     

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  11.  
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    tweeter, Feb 17th, 2010 @ 5:30am

    it just doesnt matter

    No matter how much you want it to, twitter just doesnt matter.

     

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  12.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Feb 17th, 2010 @ 5:50am

    Re: Re:

    Twitter has its own search engine, which gives results within seconds. Second, if you're really using a tool like Tweetdeck, you have persistent searches so you'd know almost immediately.

    Someone who isn't knowledgeable enough to already have a Twitter account probably doesn't know about Tweetdeck or how to use Twitter's search function.

    And even if they were just searching Google or even Bing, both now have deals with Twitter for real time results, so the results show up within seconds, not two weeks...

    I didn't know about that, but it's a big stretch to ignore Yahoo as a search provider. (Unless they have real-time deals as well.)

    Interestingly, I didn't see anyone mention when Heinz reported the issue to Twitter. I mean, I can really see a Heinz employee taking note of the account, taking the time to find out if the account was legitimate, finding that it wasn't, passing that info up, a stuffed shirt deciding what to do about it, Twitter being contacted, the Twitter employee passing the information up, Twitter deciding on a course of action, and then executing said course of action...

    Two weeks doesn't seem very short, but it doesn't seem very long either.

    Assuming that it took Heinz two weeks to notice means assuming that someone at Heinz noticed the account, knew it wasn't legitimate, had the authority to decide to notify Twitter, notify Twitter, and that Twitter decided on the correct action, and executed that action, all in one day.

    Doesn't seem very likely.

     

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  13.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Feb 17th, 2010 @ 5:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Why did Heinz even do something?

    Agreed. They should have just started a new account (@HeinzKetchup or something similar), made sure to note that it was the OFFICIAL Heinz Twitter in their bio, send friend requests to all of @HJ_Heinz fans, and sent @HJ_Heinz a DM thanking him for being a fan of their product.

    Discreetly, they should have applied for a Verified Account, and let Twitter decide what to do about the name confusion. Then, if Twitter changes the name, the bad publicity is on Twitter.

     

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  14.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Feb 17th, 2010 @ 5:54am

    They should have just started a new account (@HeinzKetchup or something similar), made sure to note that it was the OFFICIAL Heinz Twitter in their bio, send friend requests to all of @HJ_Heinz fans, and sent @HJ_Heinz a DM thanking him for being a fan of their product.

    Discreetly, they should have applied for a Verified Account, and let Twitter decide what to do about the name confusion. Then, if Twitter changes the name, the bad publicity is on Twitter.

    Faster, easier, simpler, better customer service.

     

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  15.  
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    BBT, Feb 17th, 2010 @ 7:23am

    What I always wonder when I read a story like this:

    Who the hell are these people who follow a ketchup brand on Twitter? Why on earth would anyone be interested in following vapid marketing content from a ketchup brand?

     

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  16.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Feb 17th, 2010 @ 7:41am

    Re:

    "Who the hell are these people who follow a ketchup brand on Twitter?"

    Heinz makes much more than ketchup (that's what the '57' implies.)

    I follow a few companies that are of interest to me. Heinz ain't one, but I'm sure it'd be interesting to someone.

     

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  17.  
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    tweeter, Feb 17th, 2010 @ 8:07am

    Re: Re:

    "Heinz makes much more than ketchup (that's what the '57' implies.)"

    Yes they also make pickels and steak sauce. While highly profitable and certainly an American Icon, they are hardly an exciting, cutting edge corporation. To answer the original question though of who would follow them on twitter, the millions of people still struggling invain to find some use for twitter(besides seeing what Steven Fry ate for lunch).

     

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  18.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Feb 17th, 2010 @ 9:56am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'm up to date on what my favorite artists, my friends, Techdirt, and several companies are doing b/c of Twitter. And I can do it when I have the time to be curious, not when they feel the need to post.

    So, couldn't tell you what Fry had for lunch, but I can tell you that Spinner is a wonderfully dry commentator on celebrity. MC Frontalot doesn't use Twitter as much as you'd think. Marian Call is addicted to it. And so is NASA.

    In short, Twitter is what you make (ie, follow) it.

     

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  19.  
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    Overcast (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 8:33am

    Is "HJ Heinz" patented?

    If not, why should this guy need to change the name?

     

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  20.  
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    Rob Gokee, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 7:12pm

    Heinz

    If Heinz learns nothing else from this incident, it's that they need to increase their online presence. Look at how it's helping Dunkin Donuts, Coke & Adidas. Twitter is a great place for listening to your customers and addressing their needs.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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