Monday, January 13, 2014

The Four Great Pretenders on Social Media

In my opinion, there are several types of pretender on social networks. They claim expertise, but they are really frauds. When credibility and authenticity were being handed out, they were at the back of the queue, or more likely not in the queue at all. Sometimes it's hard to tell if they are real or fake, so here's a guide that I've developed for my own use. You may find it helpful.

Here's how I describe them:

1) The pretend expert 

These are the people who publish reviews of new products and services, sometimes before launch. They haven't seen or tried the new stuff themselves, but have simply read all the reports from people who have, and pulled together a summary which makes them look as though they are "in the know".

2) The pretend writer 

These are real crooks, in my opinion. They reproduce articles and blog posts written by others, with no accreditation, leading people to believe they wrote them. Sometimes they even claim the writing credit. Sad indeed.

3) The pretend journalist 

This is a type I'm seeing more often. they pick up online news alerts or listen to broadcast sources, and then announce the "news" to their friends and followers. They overlook the fact that if people are interested in a story, they will have the same alerts set up. If there was an attempt to comment on the news, I could see the point of it, but simply sending out "news" seems utterly pointless. News sites do it better and faster.

4) The pretend friend of celebs 

They continually "chat" to celebrities on Twitter and Facebook as though they are pals. 99% of it is one-way traffic. Occasionally, they will receive a response, which they will talk about for weeks.

What do all these fakes have in common? I suspect it's a desire for status - to be seen as an important member of their online community. Alas, I think it's all wasted effort. It would be far better if they posted their own views and experiences, offered their unique perspective, and engaged in debate. It would provide some genuine credibility, not to mention some much-needed self-respect.

Image License: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 from


Elinor Cohen said...

You know how they say nothing happens without a reason - so I just saw something today (or rather someone) who fits each and every one of your descriptions perfectly. I tweeted something to a friend and then your post came up on twitter. Too true.
Sadly, with the ease of "making noise" on social media professional integrity is kinda dead.
And you know what? I wouldn't care about it so much if it wasn't making the lives of the honest people, the ones who never sell anything they cannot back up (knowledge, services etc.) harder. It is not easy to compete with the pretenders who also charge less (to make themselves more attractive)....

Alan Stevens said...

Thanks Elinor - glad the post was timely!

Graham Jones said...

Excellent stuff as always Alan. My favourite "pretend experts" are the "social media experts" who turn out to have 42 followers on Twitter, a non-public Facebook account and no listing on LinkedIn. So far I have met at least half a dozen such "experts". Ho hum.

Alan Stevens said...

Thanks Graham. It seems you and I have met the same "experts" ;-)

Shellie said...

There is a Fifth Pretender as well. Working in Non-Profit I am behind the scenes and create what does not exist. I work for free.(I get a lot of guff for that.)I am not a professional because I am not paid, but an expert all the same. This allows "Pretenders." to claim your work as you are supposedly working under their direction. I call them monkeys because they are always on my back. Annoying and in the way. In 7 years a paid professional fundraiser was able to raise $2000. I was unpaid and raised $57,000 in 1 year and $97,000 in the second and 12 years later it is still providing significant funding.So whose the expert in your eyes? LOL She tried to claim my work, but the executive fired her and set the history right. It was very hurtful,but I held on to my work in the end. The work is what I care about the most.