Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez are among the musicians with the largest followings on social networks – but also those with the greatest number of impersonators.
That’s according to the New York Times, which commissioned a company called Social Imposter to research the number of people pretending to be one of the top 10 accounts on Instagram. The answer? Nearly 9,000 across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
That included 1,389 fraudulent Selena Gomezes, 714 pretend Beyoncés and 233 fake-it-off Taylor Swifts, although Brazilian footballer Neymar Jr beat them all with 1,676 impersonators.
Lower down the popularity list, there’s still a problem: the NYT noted that country artists seem to be particularly vulnerable to imposters trying to defraud their fans: singer/songwriter Kip Moore has even had women tell him they’ve left their husbands to be with him, after chatting to someone they thought was him on Instagram or Facebook.
A campaign launched this month, called Nashville for Social Media Safety, is trying to teach fans to “know how to spot the signs of fake accounts, report imposters, and help us take charge of this growing issue to protect the best fans in the world” – backed by Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson, Keith Urban and other artists.
The worrying thing here is that all the social networks concerned have systems and public badges/icons to denote ‘verified’ celebrities – yet the fake accounts are still fooling people.