Warning! Do Not Trust Screenshots of Tweets

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One of the things we strive to do at SteamFeed is tell the truth about marketing, social media, technology, and business. And when we see a new social media tool come out that could potentially damage the reputation of people, we want to educate people about it: we’re trying to make the internet a better place for everyone by cleaning up the junk.

One of our authors, Phil Gerbyshak (@PhilGerb), shared this post from Media Bistro in our private Facebook group. It’s about a new tool called LemmeTweetThatForYou that lets you create Twitter screenshots on behalf of others. It pulls everything, from the display picture, to @username, and even pulls the user’s background! Yikes! Now, it was probably created for fun, like shown in the screenshots below.

screenshots of tweets

 

screenshots of tweets

But there are two main concerns that popped up in our group when we first heard of this: Boasted Reputations, and Damaged Reputations.

1. Fake Reputation and Endorsements

Imagine if you’re an industry professional, trying to make it big. You want a super great endorsement on Twitter from the leading experts in your industry. Or you’re launching this scam product, maybe some ridiculous social media certification, and you want to get endorsements from big names in the industry and satisfied clients. Well, it’s now easier to fake it.

Before, when you saw a Twitter screenshot of an endorsement, reference, or testimonial, it was legit. You believed it, and it gave extra credibility to the person who’s endorsed. Now, it could easily be faked, making self-proclaimed “gurus” look like they know what they’re doing, with fake endorsements, from “real” clients. This is in the same boat as buying fake followers/likes to make yourself look more “important.”

2. Damaged & Ruined Reputations and Bullying/Harassment

There are always petty people out there, trying to ruin others’ achievements. It sucks, but it’s true. If anyone wanted to start some fake drama, accuse people of saying nasty things, or accuse someone of bullying, they could easily create a fake tweet screenshot now, blog about it, and create some real damage towards someone’s reputation. If people search for the real tweets, you could easily say they’ve been deleted, and nobody can argue who’s right or wrong. Since most people don’t know about this tool, they would be more inclined on believing the person that’s creating a ruckus, than the poor person getting attacked. Not cool.

The problem with a tool like this is that IT WILL GET ABUSED! The majority of people do not know about this tool, and will believe the screenshots are real. I know the tool was probably not created for the purposes above, but a fun, harmless tool can easily be used in a negative context, which can be dangerous.

It’s our job, as social media professionals, to educate as many people as we can about this. Please, share this article with everyone you know, or even write your own follow-up article! Let’s all help making the internet a safer place for everyone.

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Daniel Hebert

Daniel Hebert

Growth Manager, Social Media at /newsrooms
Daniel Hebert is an award-winning graduate of Mount Allison University, Growth Manager, Social Media at /newsrooms, and Co-founder at SteamFeed.com. He has a passion for digital marketing and entrepreneurship. If he wasn’t a marketer, he would take his love for food and become a chef.
Daniel Hebert

@danielghebert

Growth Manager, Social Media at @newsrooms, Co-Founder at @SteamFeedCom. Love to play guitar & pretend I'm a chef :) http://t.co/hX7kZ1DPEh
Continuous #marketing, @newsrooms style! [VIDEO] "21 Days" to see what we really do - http://t.co/olnMSlrOmS #contentmarketing #newsrooms - 10 hours ago
Daniel Hebert
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Comments

  1. ideagirlmedia says:

    Daniel,

    Really important stuff! Thank you for taking your position.

    Truth: It will get abused. And it is our job, as social media professionals, to educate others.

    Off to do my job – Thanks for the visual! :)

    ~Keri

  2. Hi Daniel,

    Sure, this "tool" will be abused, but it's absurd to think that anyone who is set on perpetrating fraudulent acts online needs this tool in the first place. Anyone with the most basic of page making programs could create a bogus screenshot in minutes. There are scores of ways people can and do misrepresent themselves online, and most don't require much effort.

    Instead of focusing on a specific tool, it would be far more helpful to let people know how to fact-check and find signs that someone is not what they seem: You could let people know how to determine if it is likely that someone is buying Twitter followers or Facebook likes. Or if they're really as influential as they claim. Or if the other claims they're making online are true.

    You're doing an injustice to imply that this one silly tool is going to have any real influence in the social media environment, beyond the novelty of inexperienced users pretending they're friends of Ellen DeGeneres.

    I do agree that education is important, and kudos to you for your efforts on that front. I look forward to reading more.

    Best,
    Chris

    • Daniel Hebert says:

      Thanks for the comment Chris!

      The reason I wanted to bring this tool to people's attention is that it's made it "easier" for people to cheat – which is never a good idea in our industry. If you don't have any photoshop abilities, or don't know of the specific tools that recreate screenshots, it's not easy. When tools like this exists, they do get abused, because it makes cheating even more accessible to people that don't have the technical skills to do so otherwise.

      Whenever we see stuff like this at SteamFeed, we want to make people aware that it exists, and to be careful. This tool is only one, of many – I know. And there are other ways to cheat online, which can be discussed in other posts (we could probably write a book on all the different ways to cheat your personal brand online, and what to look-out for).

      I appreciate you stopping by, and sharing your thoughts!

  3. Had no idea a tool like this even existed – mostly thought it was due to good photoshop skills.

    This is probably one of the hundreds of reasons why we are so divided politically today.

    • Daniel Hebert says:

      I didn't either, until Phil brought it up in our Facebook Group a couple days ago. We all agreed that something should be written about it, to educate people.

  4. Increasingly we have to warn people NOT to use tools offered. We have to realize that these warnings are at least as valuable as positive reviews.

    This is scary…. I just tried it. Fortunately it doesn't actually tweet it "just" creates the screenshot (phew)
    I will tell my followers to embed tweets directly into their posts instead of a screen shot. This also ads so much more functionality.

    Thanks for sharing this!

    • Daniel Hebert says:

      Thanks for the comment Frithjof!

      It is a scary tool. It was most certainly designed for fun, to mess around like I did with my screenshots. But sometimes, fun can go wrong. And it will.

  5. Block one hole and another opens up. I find it's a constant situation learning about what & how people are abusing others online. Thanks for publicizing & keeping us informed.

  6. dragonblogger says:

    This is one reason why I prefer people to use the native tweet embeds, especially on a WordPress blog, it adds legitimacy as well as better appearance overall. I never trust screenshots from affiliate marketers showing the thousands deposited per week into their accounts either. It is ironic since I do screenshots of earnings from my own blog but they are screenshots of an excel spreadsheet, of course they can be fake but in my case who would fake something to be so unimpressive :)

    • Daniel Hebert says:

      I agree about the embed.

      The only downside is that if the tweet gets deleted, the embed won't work anymore. A way to combat this is to take a screenshot of more than just the tweet. Include a couple tweets, some of the background, the sidebar, etc. It's a lot harder to fake a screenshot like that.

      • dragonblogger says:

        Hah, thats a good point about if the tweet gets deleted, defeats the whole purpose doesn't it.

        • Daniel Hebert says:

          Exactly! If you're dealing with sensitive tweets in a blog post, and the post gets some traction, the person tweeting might decide to delete the sensitive tweets.

          This happens all the time, that's why people use screenshots of tweets as backups. The problem now is that screenshots are easier than ever to fake :S

  7. I understand your point. Doctoring screen shots was available before this and will still be around even if this tool gets nuked. But now that people know they can't trust screen shots, what can someone use, for example, when there is real bullying going on and they want to out the perpetrator?

    • SteamFeed says:

      Great comment!

      You can always embed tweets directly in your blog posts, making them more interactive anyways. The down-side of that is that sometimes tweets get deleted (especially when it\’s in a case of bullying).

      If you were to take a screenshot of a tweet, you neet to show a little bit more than just focusing on the tweet itself. What I mean by this is that you could show two tweets, a bit of the background, and a bit of the sidebar as well – these screenshots are a lot more difficult to manipulate, and could be taken a bit more seriously.

      Hope this helps!

  8. Wow, I had no idea this website existed! Although sites like this were obviously created for harmless fun it's quite scary to think how easily they could be abused; doctor that 'retweets' metric and you've got a bit of instant social proof.

    It'd be interesting to see if Twitter develop some kind of action plan to try and root out the cheaters now it's such an important marketing tool as well as a social network.

    • Daniel Hebert says:

      Thanks for the comment Charlotte!

      I really don't know what Twitter could do in this case, except shut that site down. People can still fake screenshots with Photoshop, and it would be very hard for Twitter to keep track of all the fakes out there. Sad but true :(

  9. Ironically, I was visiting the site tonight to look for something else and saw the teaser with the Ellen tweet on the homepage. And, even though I had already read this article, for just a second I found myself thinking, "Gee, I didn't know that Ellen knew Daniel."

    That's a powerfully dangerous tool.

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