How do I identify internet scam stars

The people who impersonate celebrities on social media

This article first appeared on Broadly.

It's no secret that Twitter and Instagram are the top sources of celebrity news. After all, people like the Kardashians, Taylor Swift and Katy Perry do their dirty laundry (and those of their respective lovers and enemies) on social networks. So the first thing we do is stop by when we ask ourselves what is happening in the world of celebrities, whether we are passing the time on the bus or trying to escape the gray reality of the office.

In my work as an entertainment journalist, I pay close attention to perfect spelling, correct grammar and accurate presentation of the facts. Accordingly, I was horrified when my editor recently told me I had to change a tweet that I had quoted in an article because the tweet was from a fake account. Something like that doesn't do well. I started to wonder how many accounts we follow on Instagram and Twitter are fake. What motivates someone to hide behind the facade of a star?

Laura, a 20-year-old student, runs a Twitter account dedicated to Perrie Edwards of Little Mix (@FakePerrieLM) and has 3,300 followers. She admits this is a private space that her real friends don't know about and that she can express herself in — and she tweets as Ewards (or as she imagines Edwards would tweet).

"I can identify with Perrie very well," she says. "We have a lot in common. Being happy and sad at the same time - I see that in Perrie, and so am I. That is one of the reasons why she is my role model. So it's definitely a tribute to her. When she and Zayn Malik broke up, I took it pretty badly because I feel like I 'am' her - but I've slowly gotten over it and now it's fine . " The one for Edwards isn't the first celebrity RPG account Laura has set up. She has been pretending to be various stars on social media sites since 2009, starting with Taylor Swift and Demi Lovato. "I see it as a hobby," she explains. "Some people like to play soccer, and I do this here in my spare time. It helps me relax and escape my real life.

Thanks to Fabulous for making me woman of the year. Means a lot. - Nala. ♛‍ (@FakePerrieLM) December 15, 2015

"Yes, there have been people who thought my Perries account was real, but that's not my intention," she adds. "I have the word 'fake' in my username and the fact that I am role-playing is there In the bio. I think there is a difference between roleplaying and deliberately fooling, because that could harm the person you claim to be. Role play, on the other hand, is just for fun, clearly fake, but entertaining. "

Some of these accounts are more clearly intended to deceive fans. Ed Sheeran's fake account that I accidentally quoted looked pretty much like the real one, with the same color combination and profile picture.

I miss Zayn
- Ed Sheeran (@EdShreean) December 12, 2015

The impostor @EdShreean has more than 22,000 followers, many of whom are probably just as carelessly scrolling through Twitter as I am. On Twitter, you can easily confuse 22,000 followers with 22 million, because the page does not write out the number of followers, but instead uses a letter for thousands or millions.

I'm not the only journalist who's been fooled by a fake celebrity account. Reported in JulyMailOnline, the Empire- Actor Derek Luke has railed against Instagram followers who criticized the black actor for his marriage because his wife is not black. But Luke is not on Instagram at all. An account with 86,000 followers called @iamderekluke is currently posing as the actor, for example by taking backstage photos from an appearance on the TV show The View with Whoopie Goldberg or pictures of Luke with his Empire-Colleagues posts.

But it was the Post with a photo of Luke with his wife, Sophia Luke, that got so much attention.

Underneath it said, “My wife may not be black, but she is mine. She is mine and she has a heart of gold. People are so quick to judge, but they can't even see what color someone is. Sophia Luke is Hispanic. It's not white, it's not black, it's not Chinese, it's Hispanic. And she is mine !! "

The post has 6,500 likes to date and has sparked a huge discussion in the comments. Of course, Luke isn't exactly happy about that. "Someone's trying to mess with my life," he told Access Hollywood. "That person invited people to auditions on my behalf. That's crazy. They wrote that my wife and I have a child, but we still have that Not."

Are these fake accounts easy to spot? It all depends on how much work the fakers put in. Derek Luke's fake account is extremely well done, each photo has a personal and emotional caption. And if a gossip page of the caliber of MailOnline let yourself be fooled, then we have a problem.

I've tried contacting the wrong Derek Luke and the wrong Ed Sheeran, but it seems like the bigger impostors aren't interested in talking - I guess that would ruin their scam. But the operators of the role-playing accounts clearly identified as such were a lot more open about their motivations.

Jennifer (20) has an account for Cheryl Fernandez-Versini on Twitter, @Cheryl_RP. She has around 800 followers. Although her account is not a direct copy of the real one, Jennifer can "be" Cheryl there - she posts photos of the singer she likes and interacts with her followers as "Cheryl".

It's great when you tell someone your feelings for them. It lets you know that they should stop talking to you
- Cheryl (@Cheryl_RP) December 14, 2015

“There I can live out my obsession with Cheryl and post photos of her. I've been a fan of Cheryl and her band Girls Aloud for a long time, and yeah, I love Cheryl, "she says." She helped me be more self-absorbed. Sometimes I do a bit of roleplay with other accounts, too, "continues they away. “I would love to have more followers. That way I can expand my audience and meet new people. It makes me feel like something special. It makes me feel better because I honestly don't have a lot of people to talk to in real life. ”Dr. Elle Boag, a lecturer in social psychology at Birmingham City University, affirms that people may like to impersonate celebrities on the internet because they are themselves bored or lonely in their own life.

“People get lonely. Perhaps they don't have a large circle of friends and think that by impersonating someone else, they can attract other people. Celebrities have a certain status, so impersonating people can quickly get positive reactions. We, the rest of the population, tend to lead a rather boring life. It's a form of escapism and an extension of fan fiction. "

Laura and Jennifer are up to no evil with their accounts, but some people, like the fake Derek Luke, have malicious intentions after all. Although there are no negative posts about him on the fake account on Instagram, he generated press for the actor that he never wanted.

"There are also people with bad intentions," explains Boag. "They think to themselves: 'What this star has, I want too'. They are the real impostors."

“Some people love to lie and manipulate others — they find it entertaining and it gives them a sense of power. You can be absolutely anyone online. Why not a star? Maybe you're a 45-year-old housewife who is bored to death, but you pretend you're Justin Bieber in your free time. It's an escape from reality. "

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And what is the official position of social networks on such accounts? When I asked Twitter, the contact person told me that parody accounts were allowed, but that it had to be clear that it was a fake.

"It is against the rules of Twitter to impersonate someone else," I was told. "Twitter accounts that portray another person in a confusing or deliberately deceptive way can be permanently suspended according to Twitter rules." Instagram's terms of use look similar, but the fake Derek Luke continues to mischief.

While social media sites claim they take impostor accounts seriously, it looks like they could get a little stricter. I guess it depends on how far fans go with their love for their idol — some may just wish they were their favorite Little Mix member, but others intervene in celebrity lives. So next time you might want to take a closer look before you hit "Follow".

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