I have a calendar item in Outlook to remind me to Google my headshot every six months. Unfortunately, I don’t always like what I discover. During the last two years, I have found impersonators using my headshot on various websites and social media platforms. I suggest you follow the same practice in an effort to protect your personal profile which is getting harder and harder to do online.
How to Search Your Image on Google
Open Google Images (www.google.com/images). In a separate window, open the file where you keep your headshots. Right click on the image, then drag the photo from the file into the Google Images search bar. You will need to pursue all of the results to make sure they are legitimate.
I recently conducted a personal image search using a retired headshot and found that a despicable “SEO” company has hijacked my likeness and is using it on all sorts of websites and social media profiles. My more recent headshot, when searched on Google, turned up clean.
What I Found After I Googled My Headshot
My name is Gina Rubel and I am the CEO of Furia Rubel Communications, Inc. Therefore, I am not Melinda on Twitter at I Create Millionaires (all one word but I don’t want to repeat it here), or Patricia Briggs who blogs about debt forgiveness, or Arpita Thakur or Sarah Zhan from India on LinkedIn. I have never played black jack so I would never post on maclackjack.blogspot.com and I am not Xavier Steyaert on YouTube.
On “Ripoff Report,” I supposedly wrote a negative review of lease-a-seo.com – you can see it for yourself at http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Lease-A-SEOcom-Jest-Staffel/internet/Lease-A-SEOcom-Jest-Staffel-COMPLETE-RIPOFF-DONT-TRUST-THIS-SEO-COMPANY-Internet-733969. It definitely contains my photo, to which I own the copyright, however, there is no way to reach anyone at this particular blog – or at least I have been unsuccessful to date. I tried going to www.whois.net and found that the URL is owned by DNC HOLDINGS, INC. which is a domain name management company that holds itself out to provide SEO services with an address in Latvia. There is no telephone number or email address – both red flags as they relate to the company’s legitimacy.
Reporting Impersonation on Blogs
On one accounting blog from Naples, Florida, there was a post using my image connected with the name “Patricia Briggs.” I followed the links to the parent company website, then sent an email to the company and telephoned the owner (who called me back within 15 minutes). I asked the gentleman if he had been contacted by a company that purported to provide SEO services and which offered to provide blog posts in exchange for links on their website, etc. Of course he had. I sent him to my company’s website to demonstrate that I was, in fact, the same person in the photo that was posted on his blog. He immediately apologized, contacted his web developer, and had the post removed. I double checked this morning and the post is gone. I sent him a personal email of thanks.
Reporting Impersonation on YouTube
Go to the impersonator’s profile then click on About. You will see two icons, one with a flag and the other that says send message. Click on the down arrow and then click on “report user.” There are various options including “impersonation.” Once you choose impersonation, you get four choices. This is where I reached a crossroad because while I am being impersonated, the channel is not using my real name so the options that follow were confusing.
I picked “My trademark or company is being impersonated.” (It should read, “My trademark or copyright” because the next screen asked you to file a copyright issue or a trademark issue.) I filed a copyright issue. Once you go to this page, you can “file a copyright complaint.” The next page has another list, from which you choose “Privacy (Someone is using my image).” You are then directed to the Policy Center where you will find Impersonation from which you choose Report Impersonation on YouTube. On this page, you will need to include your name, email address, the URL for the impersonating profile, and then you have to attach a “clear, readable copy of your valid driver’s license, national ID card or other photo ID” which YouTube (i.e. Google) will retain. Finally, you will declare under penalty of perjury, that the information is accurate. After all that, you get a “Thanks for contacting us!” with no further direction. At this stage, I have to wait and will add another calendar reminder in outlook to follow up with YouTube on this issue.
Reporting Impersonation on Twitter
On the day I found the impersonation on Twitter, I tweeted to @Twitter and @Support. I did not get a response so I tweeted every day for four days. On day four, I received a tweet from @Support telling me to go to https://support.twitter.com/articles/20170142-reporting-impersonation-accounts. I read the guidelines and reported the violation at the “Report an account for impersoantion page:” https://support.twitter.com/forms/impersonation. I received a detailed message from Twitter stating, “Your report has been submitted to Twitter. Please allow for a reasonable amount of time for us to respond. Twitter works hard to respond in a timely manner and will notify you via the email address you provided with any updates to your report status.” Immediately following, I received an email with a case number and more instructions for me to upload my valid government-issued photo ID to a secure Twitter site. I did so and now I wait.
Reporting Impersonation on LinkedIn
LinkedIn made it rather clear on how to report impersonation. One place to begin is their FAQ on reporting inappropriate content, messages, or safety concerns at https://help.linkedin.com/app/safety/answers/detail/a_id/146/ft/eng
Just click on reporting an inappropriate photo and all the directions are clear as to the next steps: https://help.linkedin.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/33/ft/eng
After I reported the two profiles using my headshot, I received an email with a case number from LinkedIn (within minutes) and was notified that I can follow the “support history” regarding this matter using my profile. Our dialogue continues and hopefully, they will rectify the issue.
Reporting Impersonation on Facebook
While I did not come across a Facebook profile using my likeness inappropriately, I did research how to report a fake account impersonating another person. Here is the link to the Facebook help center for more: https://www.facebook.com/help/174210519303259
What to do After Reporting Impersonation Online?
As of day five, I am still monitoring all of the reports and will add reminders in Outlook to follow up. It is important to remain diligent and patient as all of these matters take time to resolve (hence why hijackers get away with this conduct so often). I continue to follow up on the complaints I have lodged with the social media sites and will continue to go through this routine every few months with the hopes that I can eradicate the impersonation online.
Wish me luck….