Updated 3:45 pm ET Tuesday, November 15
Google Plus Pages for businesses and brands are barely a week old, and already the neophyte social network appears to have its first identity crisis: Someone has created a Google Plus Page for Bank of America trashing the nation’s largest bank with a series of mocking photos, images and other posts, according to Reuters social media editor Anthony DeRosa on Twitter Monday night.
Indeed, visiting the page at the time of this posting reveals a series of messages obviously meant to satirize the bank’s overall business practices.
“Starting tomorrow, all Occupy Wall Street protestors with Bank of America accounts around the country will have their assets seized as part of BofA’s new Counter-Financial-Terrorism policy,” reads a post on November 8, “You will sit down and shut up, or we will foreclose on you.”
In fact, all of the account activity, dating back to its creation, seems to have occurred on November 8, the day after Google Plus debuted the ability for brands to register to create pages. There is no activity before or after that date.
Aside from the mocking posts, the blog also features a series of unflattering photos of former Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis, who retired in 2009 after steering the bank through the merger with Merrill Lynch and the associated 2008 global financial crisis.
Several others examining the bizarre situation on Twitter, namely Red Tettemer vice president Annie Heckenberger, noted that whoever created the page was exemplifying “brandjacking” in which an unauthorized person or group manages to acquire the online identity of another group and impersonate them.
No matter who is behind the page, the fact that it was put up so quickly and remains up a week later clearly marks a blight on the rollout of the Google Plus Pages and the company’s ability to ensure brand security and verification, an irony considering the fact that initially, Google didn’t allow companies or pseudonyms on Google Plus partially due to verification reasons.
The same thing happened to Twitter, with “fake accounts” being created for celebrities and causing real-world confusion. Twitter responded by creating its “Verified Accounts” procedure and accompanying stamp in June 2009.
But on Google Plus, it appears that anyone can still create a Plus Page for any business, so long as they link to that business’s official website, Creare Group notes. And the Bank of America Plus Page’s “About” section contains the company’s real New York city headquarters address, phone number and web URL.
As for what Google plans to do about the issue, a Google spokesperson told TPM via email that while the company doesn’t comment on individual Plus pages, “we also rely on the community (as with a lot of our other products like Android Market and YouTube) to help report profiles they feel are violating our policies. You can see a ‘Report this Profile’ link on the left hand side of the page.”
We’ve reached out to Bank of America for more on what they plan to do about the situation and will update when we receive a response.
Late update: A Bank of America spokesperson emailed TPM with the following statement: “We shared our concerns over the imposter page with Google, and it has since been taken down.”