This post was originally published on 6/6/14 and was later updated on 1/14/15.
On June 6, 2014, I made a shocking discovery on the Greenlight Pinellas Facebook Page, and it angered me greatly. Someone, decided to create a parody account of my own blog’s Facebook Page. In fact, the page has been around since May 11 (which is about the same time that several fake personal accounts sprung up to counteract points on the Greenlight page, many of which have since “disappeared” or otherwise have been deactivated). As of the original publishing of this post, the fake page had no followers, but was taken down a couple months later.
It wouldn’t have been such a problem if the parody page was just harmlessly poking fun at one of my posts. However, this parody page was intentionally created to mislead people into thinking negatively towards public transport. What is worse, is that if someone was searching for my official Facebook page, they could easily stumble upon the fake page. I have a strong feeling that someone in opposition to Greenlight, who has also seen my blog posts, is the culprit behind this impostor of a parody page. Have a look at the screen capture below.
As depicted by the screen capture above, this account goes to great lengths to appear as legit as possible at first glance. Unless one was looking at the page’s title very closely, they wouldn’t think that it was indeed a fake page. However, notice the “r” at the end of “HARTride”, this should be your first indication that you are NOT on my page. The other dead giveaway, is the page’s description…which is clearly NOT what my blog is about. Third, the URL to my Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/HARTride2012Tampa, which is a personalized page URL on Facebook. The fake page seems to utilize (for now) the default-type URL that is generated when a page is created on Facebook without using a personalized URL.
Although activity on the impostor account seems to be dormant for now (only three posts since the page’s creation), I suspect that if the page remains visible, the admin will begin an all out attack on my page sooner or later, especially with it only being five months and counting before the important November election, where Pinellas residents will be asked to vote for the Greenlight Pinellas referendum question. This is why I want to get the word out about this impostor account NOW, rather than waiting for the massive plan of attack to be executed by the account’s admin.
This isn’t my first encounter with such a parody account…
While on the subject, I also want to bring up something that I’ve shared on my Facebook Page previously, and that is the infamous @PGH_Transit parody account on Twitter. This fake account has been on Twitter since December, 2013, and was first brought to my attention by the staff at the non-profit Pittsburgh, PA Bus Information Hotline in March. Despite some efforts to try and steer PAT customers away from this fake page, the fake page lives on…and will likely live on for quite some time.
The fake @PGH_Transit account does the same thing as the other fake account did…they appear to be as legit as possible at first glance by choosing a Twitter handle that is very close to the official Twitter handle of the Port Authority of Allegheny County, PA (known as PAT), which @PGHtransit. However, the fake account frequently posts distasteful and malicious comments about the Port Authority and their transit services. The Bus Information Hotline staff have informed me that at least two PAT customers have ceased using the system because of the idiotic posts of the fake account. Here’s a screen capture of their fake page.
As you can see, the fake @PGH_Transit feed is filled with atrociously negative comments about PAT Transit, and the page still exists as of today (6/6/14). I have a feeling that this fake account in particular will remain intact unless PAT’s police department decides to step in an file a complaint. I’m not sure if or when that may happen.
So to begin wrapping up this post, here are some words of wisdom from the staff at the Pittsburgh Bus Information Hotline (from their March 27th post).
Ordinarily a Parody or humor account is no great deal but regrettably in many of their tweets they start off innocent but once you’re roped in they mislead, or offend to such a degree at least 2 tweeters have stopped using PAT ( PortAuthority ) or moved away entirely
Also they post misleading and or offensive messages pertaining to detours and the like and intention interact with the public in a manner full of such malicious intent it not only undermines the real Port Authority but 3rd Parties like us or @hrt_buses
So in closing or if this was TLDR for ya avoid @PGH_Transit and always be 110% aware of whom you’re tweeting and certain it’s the right account
And with that said, I will echo the same, always be 110% aware of what social media account you are replying to. To repeat, my official Facebook Page URL is https://www.facebook.com/HARTride2012Global. For those of you who use Twitter, my official feed is @TampaBayTransit (with the URL of https://twitter.com/TampaBayTransit/). If you come across a page that looks like mine, but does not have these URLs, you are likely NOT ON MY PAGE!
Thank you for your attention on this matter. ~ HARTride 2012