Piracy on social media

The dangers lurking for brand manufacturers on Facebook, WeChat & Co

Social media and messaging platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp and WeChat offer significantly more interaction and user engagement than well-known websites and large online marketplaces. It’s no wonder that the extensive reach of these social media platforms also attracts piracy. Scammers use the channels to draw attention to their products, web shops and offers.

For brand manufacturers, this entails high risks, as abusive social media activities can lead to dramatic sales losses. And there’s not just that. Phishing, too, (the theft of personal data) operates via social media channels, negatively impacting reputations.

As the number of users increases, so does the risk of piracy

The more users interact on a social media platform, the higher the likelihood that scammers will also be active in the network.

Social

Ranking of the biggest social networks and messaging platforms

By the number of monthly active users (MAU) in millions
as of January 2018

Ranking of the biggest social networks and messaging platforms

WeChat (operated by Tencent, China)

The former chat service for smartphones has so far been extended to include many features, including the mobile payment system WeChat Pay. WeChat is also used for payment in stationary trade. In China, the country with the highest number of scammers, over 80% of all smartphone users use Tencent’s popular app. The dangers lurking on WeChat are therefore considered to be particularly high.

Cybersquatting – when your social media account is occupied by a “stranger”

In addition to social media piracy, i.e. advertising or offering counterfeit goods via for example Facebook, social networks present even more problems for international brand manufacturers. Cybersquatting is also popular with scammers. This involves registering names as Internet domain names or social media account names which the registrant isn’t actually entitled to. They misuse these names to capture the brand manufacturer’s traffic and use them for fraudulent purposes.

When developing an international brand, it makes sense to use the right profile and user names on social media and consequently benefit from enormous branding impact. Even if these profiles aren’t yet supposed to be actively used, it makes sense to register them straight away. This thwarts cybersquatters on social media from the outset. It’s usually very difficult to recover misused account names and it requires a lot of effort.

The Hilton hotel chain has for instance fallen prey to cybersquatting. When it wanted to open a Twitter account for its hotel in San Diego, the names @HiltonSanDiego and @SanDiegoHilton were already in use. If Hilton had consequently opted for @HiltonSanDiegoCA, users would quickly suspect this was a fake account despite being held by the actual brand – and the actual fake account with the “right” name would succeed and could tap sensitive data.

More information about typosquatting and cybersquatting can be found in our blog article.

Phishing – Data theft via social media accounts

Prize draws on Facebook have been a popular way for fraudsters to illegally access user data for years. With seemingly real profiles and accounts on social networks, phishers attract naive users to so-called phishing websites, where they intercept sensitive information such as passwords, credit card information, or social security numbers and commit identity theft.

Recognise and combat piracy

EBRAND Services works with brand manufacturers to combat the fraudulent social media activities described above. Using highly effective software, we monitor user profiles, posts, content and images on a variety of channels – worldwide and around the clock. In this way, abusive content, ads or profiles can be detected and dealt with before they become critical and create uncontrollable risks for brand manufacturers.

If sellers are active on different platforms, our technology joins up the “dots” such as contact data, seller and profile names or web pages. The aim is not only to delete individual listings, but to stop all online sales activities of fraudulent sellers.

On the EBRANDS piracy platform, brand owners can view all social media posts, tweets and profiles about their brand and sort them according to a number of factors, e.g. according to the sellers with the most offers or the largest volume. You can arrange for an abusive listing to be deleted by the experts at EBRAND Services in just one click.