Man chases down fake social media accounts; Donald Trump has 200-plus

 

You just stumbled across Donald Trump’s Facebook page and you can’t wait to tell him how much you love him.

Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump speaks during the Republican presidential debate sponsored by CNN, Salem Media Group and the Washington Times at the University of Miami, Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump speaks during a Republican presidential debate March 10, 2016, in Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

But is it really Donald Trump?

An Indiana man has made a living working for celebrities to identify, and get taken down, pages on Facebook and other platforms in which people pretend to be the celebrities.

While Kevin Long and his socialimposter.com haven’t yet been hired by the part-time Palm Beacher, Long says a little bit of work on his part uncovered more than 230 fake Trump pages. And more than 200 for Hillary Clinton.

Long, during a visit last week to West Palm Beach, said  there almost assuredly are more; he searched only one spelling. He checks multiple alternative spellings for each of his clients.

Long
Long

Long has removed more than 26,000 phony accounts.

Long leaves alone obvious parody pages, “fan pages” or “community pages” independent pages created for people who either like or dislike a celebrity, and pages for people with the same names as celebrities. But he has plenty of material. In 2012, Facebook reported 83 million of its accounts were fakes.

Long did his searches manually for two years before developing an algorithm. He says only that his more than two dozen clients pay a monthly retainer of from $300 to “several thousand.”

Why do people do it? Maybe just because they can. Maybe it’s for kicks. Or to post lies such as “I eat puppies” to damage the reputation or a celebrity they don’t like. Or, in the extreme, to fraudulently solicit money.

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“Even when it’s harmless, it’s still noise,” Long said.

Kenneth Copeland Ministries is one of the few clients Long has permission to identify. He says people posing as Copeland were urging people to help them do God’s work by sending money. But the dollars were going elsewhere; sometimes overseas.

“They would get emails from their legitimate followers (saying) ‘it doesn’t look right,’ ” Long said. He said another evangelist client, who he will not identify, had more than 100 phony social media pages.

Another client: the University of Alabama. He said often fans of other schools will post fake Alabama comments just before the big game to create bulletin board material for their own teams.

 

Jeb Bush offers selfie tips during stop in West Palm Beach | Photos

Jeb Bush — king of the campaign trail selfie? (Getty Images)
Jeb Bush — king of the campaign trail selfie? (Getty Images)

Jeb Bush, at a stop in West Palm Beach to speak to the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches on Monday, took time to discuss one of the hottest issues on the 2016 campaign trail: selfies.

Bush, who got standing ovations at both ends of his talk, took on a question about the ubiquitous “selfie,” saying it’s “now the 11th Amendment of the Bill of Rights. It’s inspired by our framers and founders, apparently. It’s a requirement that you take one. And I do it with great joy in my heart.”

He gave a tutorial, showing that a diagonal angle is better than a horizontal one, and that high is better than low because “you look skinnier.”

Bush’s comments almost immediately went viral.

CNN posted an article titled “Jeb Bush’s guide to selfies on the 2016 trail.

The New York Times headline on Bush’s time in West Palm Beach said “Jeb Bush Succumbs to Selfie Craze and Offers Tips on Selfie Etiquette.”

Bush even tweeted video of what he called “a master class” on taking a selfie.

For what it’s worth, Bush isn’t the only candidate rocking the selfie on the campaign trail. As supporters have more access to social media than in any presidential campaign before, candidates have latched onto the concept.

A few examples from the past year:

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush takes a selfie with an Iowa resident after speaking at a Pizza Ranch restaurant on March 7, 2015 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush takes a selfie with an Iowa resident after speaking at a Pizza Ranch restaurant on March 7, 2015 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

 

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton takes a selfie with a supporter during the New Hampshire Democratic Party Convention at the Verizon Wireless Center on September 19, 2015 in Manchester, New Hampshire. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton takes a selfie with a supporter during the New Hampshire Democratic Party Convention at the Verizon Wireless Center on September 19, 2015 in Manchester, New Hampshire. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

 

Former business executive Carly Fiorina, right, poses for a selfie with Joe Koberna at the Johnson County Republicans Spaghetti Dinner at Clear Creek Amana High School on April 24, 2015 in Tiffin, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Former business executive Carly Fiorina, right, poses for a selfie with Joe Koberna at the Johnson County Republicans Spaghetti Dinner at Clear Creek Amana High School on April 24, 2015 in Tiffin, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

 

Democratic presidential hopeful and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, center, takes a selfie in front of the Butter Cow with his children, Grace and William, during the Iowa State Fair on August 13, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, center, takes a selfie in front of the Butter Cow with his children, Grace and William, during the Iowa State Fair on August 13, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

 

Republican presidential candidate Ohio Governor John Kasich, left, poses for a selfie during a campaign stop at Portiillo's restaurant on September 29, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Ohio Governor John Kasich, left, poses for a selfie during a campaign stop at Portiillo’s restaurant on September 29, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

 

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, right, takes a selfie as he greets guests outside the Alpha Gamma Rho house during a campaign stop at Iowa State University on October 24, 2015 in Ames, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, right, takes a selfie as he greets guests outside the Alpha Gamma Rho house during a campaign stop at Iowa State University on October 24, 2015 in Ames, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

 

A supporter takes a selfie with Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) after a watch party for the second Democratic presidential debate November 14, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
A supporter takes a selfie with Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) after a watch party for the second Democratic presidential debate November 14, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

 

A supporter of Donald Trump takes a selfie with the Republican presidential candidate at a rally in front of the USS Wisconsin on October 31, 2015 in Norfolk, Virginia. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
A supporter of Donald Trump takes a selfie with the Republican presidential candidate at a rally in front of the USS Wisconsin on October 31, 2015 in Norfolk, Virginia. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)

Read more on Bush’s appearance in West Palm Beach, and his challenge to Donald Trump.