The Intersection Of Social Media: Imposter Scams And Fake Influence

As a lawyer and personal branding expert, I spend my days teaching others how to build a powerful digital footprint. I emphasize the importance of being searchable online on Google and using the right keywords to get seen. However, I come across a lot of lawyers and executive clients who despise social media. They reluctantly put up a LinkedIn profile for the purposes of being able to job search or simply to gain access to recruiters but share no desire to engage or post on the platform — and for a very valid reason. The possibility of people stealing their information or photos is terrifying.

I empathize with individuals who are against being present on social media — I will candidly share with them that at times, social media can feel exhausting and “fake.” It can leave us wondering, who are we really engaging with, if it’s anyone at all. While I am substantially involved on the four major platforms, I often find myself at the intersection of social media, oscillating between wanting to share my content as well as falling silent in consistent posting and engaging due to the imposter scams and fake influence. I’m present, but not overly present — while I need social media for my business (particularly to share my published articles and this column), I also share in the feelings of disdain and exhaustion.

A perfect example of this happened over the weekend. I received a DM (direct message) to my Instagram page advising me, “Someone is pretending to be you on IG.” The message attached the link to the page of a purported forex trader/coach who had stolen nearly a dozen photos of me directly from my Instagram page to market “her” services.

This isn’t the first rodeo where I’ve had my content stolen or discovered that an account is impersonating me with my photos. In fact, it’s happened more times than I can count on both hands. While I have a verified (blue check) account on Instagram and Facebook, it doesn’t stop the fraudulent accounts from accessing my photos, creating bot-run accounts, and sliding past the software systems to permeate the fraud. After having 100-plus people report the account as impersonating me and after filing my own IP reports as an additional measure, the imposter account was still up and running. This is just par for the course on the platform with the rampant crypto investment scams.

Yet, we’re told there’s compliance monitoring of posts and trust and safety are of utmost importance — but what about the misinformation that comes from fake accounts and continues to permeate across the platforms? It’s clear that influence (or purported influence) can be bought on social media — via likes, followers, and even comments. We’ve witnessed it firsthand on LinkedIn — the obsession with the “algorithm” and façade of hitting 30,000 followers or a million views on a post that suddenly gives others a sense of influence, credibility, and importance.

On any given day, my DMs on Instagram are filled with bot messages inviting me to “boost” my engagement by buying likes, followers, and other “brand building” schemes. I constantly receive bot-driven messages to my Facebook inbox about paid-for advertising services. My LinkedIn connection requests are also filled with automated requests and robotic messages when I accept them. While I’m a proponent of automation to ease up workflows and improve response time, social media platforms are failing us by allowing the bot accounts and rampant spam to flourish and flood our inboxes, repeatedly to failure. As some clients have said: Why put energy into something that’s meant to build a network when you don’t know who (i.e., a robot) is behind that comment?

Social media platforms simply need to do better — reporting measures need to be painless. Imposter accounts and fake profiles need to be shut down at a rapid-fire scale.

If you’ve felt disenchanted about being on social media due to the “bots,” I’d love to hear from you. Slide into my DMs on Instagram or my inbox on LinkedIn. I’ll be sure to respond (sans automation).

Wendi Weiner is an attorney, career expert, and founder of The Writing Guru, an award-winning executive resume writing services company. Wendi creates powerful career and personal brands for attorneys, executives, and C-suite/Board leaders for their job search and digital footprint. She also writes for major publications about alternative careers for lawyers, personal branding, LinkedIn storytelling, career strategy, and the job search process. You can reach her by email at, connect with her on LinkedIn, and follow her on Twitter @thewritingguru.  

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