Thursday, April 18, 2013

Someone was pretending to be me on Google+ (a story with a happy ending)

The internet is home to a variety of scams, and some of them involve trying to manipulate Google search results. So I was surprised and dismayed, but not entirely shocked, when I noticed that someone was pretending to be me, by establishing a Google+ page for a company called Market Design, whose web page was....this blog.

What could be in it for them?  Well, maybe they were really trying to pretend that by hiring them you were hiring me. But maybe they just were moving up in Google searches through the links that this blog gets.  Here's what you saw if you searched for "market design" on Google:

The first result, on the left, is my blog. But there's an item under it called "Google+ page" and an address, which both link to the spoofer, who is also on the right, with a phone number and a map, and a picture that if you click on it gets you to one of my blog posts.

If you clicked on the link that says Google+ page under the link to my blog, you got to this page, on which my blog URL was clearly displayed as the company web page:

On 4/7/13 I filled out a problem report on the Google+ profile page, and I wrote a review disclaiming any connection between their site and me or my blog...

Apparently Google pays attention to this kind of complaint. When I checked back on 4/9/13 the spoofer was already nowhere to be found.

A recent email confirmed this:

Sent: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 1:09 PM
To: Roth, Alvin
Subject: Google Maps Problem Report - Action taken

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