Google Plus Squatting: How Google Aims to Protect Brands
As Social Squatting has increasingly become a problem for brands, Google is busy pioneering ways for global companies to protect their brand. Like with most major initiatives by the search giant, this does not come without controversy.
The company launched its beta for consumers only a few months ago, and now has made it's upgraded social platform available to companies, when it launched its Google Brand Pages. It has received lukewarm enthusiasm. The company shortly thereafter faced a stream of criticism, after folks started giving it a live test. Users for the most part found a serious glitch. That glitch, unfortunately was a contradiction of why the new feature was released to begin with. Users had found that the feature allowed anybody to create their own page for a brand, even when they had no affiliation with it.
A Confusing Social Landscape
This scenario would foment a murky landscape strewn with confusion and danger for brands. Shortly thereafter Google issued a statement saying that they would take steps to strengthen brand pages they deemed were associated with real companies and weeding out the pages that appeared to be phony and confused Google Plus users.
A Google Spokesman said that Google knows that popular brands are ripe for impersonation, and they will be working with global brands to prevent such malicious activity.
The search giant stated that it is in the process of using it's Verified Name Badge with select brand pages including big brands like Pepsi and NBC news. However, to the chagrin of many brands worried about online impostors, squatters and other cyber thieves, Google is making the decision on which brands, it will stamp with this badge.
The Google Spokesman went on to say, that it wasn't something the company was offering, or a company can apply for. Rather, Google is dealing with companies that it has a working sales relationship with to ensure they are verified. This initiative begins with globally recognized brands and will extend to the smaller companies over time.
In addition, Google will be using other ways to match Google Plus pages with their rightful owners. One such way is that brands that have the HTML Google Plus Badge code on their websites and have a link to their brand pages will make is much easier to verify that their brand page is associated with a legitimate brand.
The brand abuse team at Google promised to take down pages when it was clear those responsible for setting up the page were set out to impersonate a brand or business via social squatting. The company, however said they would not take down fan tribute pages. After all, it was two fans of Coca Cola from Los Angeles that started the Facebook Fan page, now only second to Barack Obama's as far as number of likes.
To wrap it up, Google will give more attention to reports of abuses from the legitimate companies as well as its users to see if any red lines have been crossed. Google's sophisticated tools that are in place for monitoring the web and phishing attacks via email will be applied to keep phishing pages off Google Plus brand pages as well.
What are some of the problems your brand has experienced on the different networks when it comes to impersonators? On Google Plus? Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Please feel free to chime in, in the comments section below.