The Richard Hammond on Twitter is a fake – This is why I did it…

On Friday 13th at around 3pm, I was thinking about how to best get it through to my scouts about the dangers of the internet and that people on there are not always who they say they are. As I thought more about how to begin to educate them I began to think that the education should begin with Adults and infant the parents of said Children.

Numerous things went through my head as I looked through bebo profiles, twitter accounts and facebook profiles of people aged 14-18. I began to wonder if the parents of the kids pages I was looking at knew that their children were on these sites, and knew about the content on these pages. Such detailed information about themselves, addresses, phone numbers, photos, when their parents where on holidays and when they would next have a free house. All of this information completely innocent and very dangerous in the wrong hands.

I looked to twitter, and blog articles of fake celebs on twitter, how people had believed them to be the real people and had been interacting with complete strangers. I had an idea to set myself up as a fake Richard Hammond and see if I could make adults unknowingly interact with a complete strangers.

At 3.30 on Friday 13th – I became Richard Hammond and almost straight away, I received a following and became a massive buzz on twitter. Almost straight away people began to interact.

Here are some of the 182 personal tweets I received.

Actually, you might be recording that new show on BBC1. Sorry i can’t remember what it is, but you must be rolling in it!

Did you keep your little Opel from Africa?

when is top gear comeing backi need my top gear fix please bring it back soon please a most grateful top gear fann ally x

typed in your name and there you were.Quite simple really.x

hi richard! you may be small but nice things are easy to find! x

hey richard, hope u, mindy and the girls are having a nice relaxed weekend. :) your book bout oliver n co is ace :) x x

Hi Richard, Saw the ads for your new BBC show, look good. Braniac by any other name ?!!? lol

Happy valentine sweety you can follow me when or whereever you wish

wow! gotta love the guy – a true inspiration to us all. people used to say i was a legend -but richard really IS legend:-)

I even received a DM from @stephenfry.

but by around 3pm on Saturday 14, the gig was up, @realjamesmay and @stephenfry had outed me as the fake celeb scoundrel that I am.  The backlash started – well most people were fine about it, a few threatened to hunt me down and kill me but really they should have been annoyed at themselves for believing that Richard Hammond was on twitter talking about cooking dinner for his wife when a quick look at the top gear live website would confirm that he was actually in New Zealand doing a show.

So Why did I do it ?

Well like I said before, to prove a point to my scouts, and mostly to the parents of those scouts that the Internet whilst a great asset and the best research tool around is full of fake celebs and people a lot worse than that can speak directly to their kids and have them believe things that just are not true.

This is the story of Claire, I have put this video on my blog before and It really hits home, watch it (now is good)

This is serious folks, You are allowing your Children to go online, unsupervised and do ‘whatever’ just because you don’t understand what is going on and what the internet is all about.  Its no excuse – get with the program before it is too late.  In my home town last year we had 4 teenage suicides, all put down to online bullying.

I urge you to right now, get your kids, get online with them and go through together their profiles on social networking sites.  What message are they sending to the world and themselves, I’m not talking about a heavy handed scolding session but rather parents and kids working together to make it right.  Look at their profiles – put yourself in the shoes of someone that would want to look at this stuff for the wrong reasons and come to a conclusion together about what should remain on there and what should change.

If my impersonating of Richard Hammond offended you, then I apologise but hopefully some good will come of it.

Russell

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24 Comments on “The Richard Hammond on Twitter is a fake – This is why I did it…”

  1. D'Raven says:

    Well done you! Hope it works x

  2. jaime f says:

    hi, i followed you as richard hammond yesterday, my oldest child who is 13 goes on the internet but i have family safety on every computer in the house, no web cams area llowed and i check every 30 minutes which web sites she has been on when she is online, she is allowed msn messenger, but has to ask permission before adding a contact, she cannot do it it doesnt allow her to it comes up and say you need a parents permission before adding a contact, all conversations are stored and looked at after she has finished chatting, i am very vigilant with this as i know how unsafe the web can be, i myself am very careful what information i give out about my self, my location for a start isnt where i am from, i did have a picture of myself just so 2 of my friends who wanted to follow my twitter knew they were adding me not someone else that now has been changed, the internet is a dangerous place and i for one am very careful and very careful where the children area concerned, there is no bebo facebook or anything else by any of us, twitter is fun but starting to bug the hell out of me too, so might be shutting that one down soon. have a good day…

  3. Jamie, It is good that you are so careful online, but don’t overparent. Im sure all of your kids friends are on facebook, bebo etc and your kid will also want to be soon. I think you should let them on there but maintain your high level of caution. Bebo, twitter and Facebook are a great communication tool.

  4. roni says:

    Well done the main reason I am on these sites is I run a kids group and I am constantly keeping check on what the latest fad is.. So I can offer adult advise to them. I have various people on my following list purely to see if they are who they say they are just to prevent children being swept up in some fabrication.

  5. astra says:

    As an adult in the child care profession, I agree with all your patronising points however, imitating a TV personality is a bit extreme. You can not say that you did not provoke followings on Twitter as it was you who said [quote] “Ok, Can you guys help me. If I can get 2000 followers by sunday Jezz and I will talk about twitter on topgear !” 5:03 AM yesterday
    Surely, in doing this, you are merely encouraging the misuse of such networking sites and in my opinion, are just as bad as those you are preaching about!!!!
    Point has been proven but kids are kids and will make mistakes, it is the only way they shall learn as we all have made mistakes and learnt from them in the past. We cannot wrap children in cotton wool forever, its just prolongs events , heaven forbid, like this happening!

  6. Jonathan Sawyer says:

    I thinkt the world needs more people like you! Being a teenager myself, I have had contacts on my msn account that I do not really know, but nothing has ever happened. However, I am sure that what you are talking about only happens to a few people, but thats a few people too many!!!

  7. D'Raven says:

    I think regardless of how anyone feels about the method your man here chose, the end result is that a point was made – just how easy is it to mislead people? I personally think choosing Richard Hammond was inspired, the Hamster appeals to a fair cross section of society, from kids to adults, male and female. The very fact that the profile was outed shows that people obviously look out for each other on these sites – and hey, the pretense wasnt continued after he was outed. This guy risked prosecution for all kinds of offences to try to illustrate how easy it is to mislead people, we should be grateful someone has the guts. I for one will hold up my hand and say hey, you fooled me.

  8. Lisa says:

    I think people were so offended because they felt stupid for believing it was the real Hammond.

  9. rolfje says:

    Good one Russel. Personally I don’t care if I talked to the real or fake Richard Hammond, because I have a good idea of what I think is right and wrong.

    Kids have to learn this from their parents, and when there’s not parenting online, how are they going to learn without getting hurt?

    My kids know what’s out there, and know how to deal with it. The good point in the commerical is that the same network kan be used to fight it. It’s not the network or service, it’s that one rotten bastard that mis-uses it.

    No offense taken, I think you handled it well and didn’t put anybody to shame. But you did “make me feel special” there ;-)

    Take care,
    Rolf

  10. Ben Gillam says:

    Interesting article and interesting way of leading into it on twitter. Problem is that it’s true that you can’t be sure who is who online but overparenting and being protective will only serve to make your kids hide things from you or easier still use these sites at a friends. I don’t have kids yet And maybe my views may change when I do but a bit of trust their way will mean some your way.

  11. rolfje says:

    Oh and a tip for parents: First and foremost be truly interested, and behave like a friend. That’s how you not only get to learn what your kids are doing, but also beat the bad guys at their own game.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Mom Blogs – Blogs for Moms…

  13. James Matheson says:

    I see your point, but i would like to say that if someone has little experience when it comes to the internet, all this bad press does tend to get them over-worried. Every child should follow these simple rules:

    1) No addresses, postcodes to be mentioned but don’t be so worried about surnames. There is always a way to avoid someone if they find you on Facebook etc. with your surname.

    2)Making new friends online isn’t a bad idea, just make sure that you trust those you choose, and if at any point they make you feel uncomfortable, you always have the “Block” option.

    There isn’t much else to it. But this bad press does get people far too worried, though total ignorance is just as bad.

  14. Good work Rus, I think you made a really valid point. Anyone that’s actually annoyed about what you did is more than likely just reflecting their own anger at either being taken in (well apart from Hammond himself possibly). It may have been a bit extreme, but as soon as you were outed, I saw the number or followers “hammond” had and knew exactly what you were up to. It really takes something like this to make people realise, shock treatment, it’s talked about so much and for most people I interact with, goes in one ear and out the other. It’s the same mindset that allows children as young as 5 or 6 to play 18 rated video games. The parents would never allow them to watch an 18 rated movie, but “sure its only a game.” Things have moved on a lot since Pong and AOL chat, it is the parents responsibility to keep their child as safe in the real world as it is in the virtual.

  15. Boaly says:

    Yeh, I think this plus this post makes a very valid point indeed!

  16. valebrity says:

    Interesting experiment – glad you had some reasoning behind it rather than just a wind up. Things need to improve regards identity.

  17. Lee Munroe says:

    lol I had no idea about this. Brilliant!

  18. Girlsoncam says:

    I love those sexy girls , they make me happy … I would love to read more , please write more and thank you

  19. Great great post , I wish i could see more of those great posts for me ! Thank you

  20. Agmada says:

    The latest fake Richard Hammond is TGR_Hammond. The idiot behind this is fooling a lot of people and is even pretending to be James May AND Richard’s wife, Mindy. This guy talks crud by the barrell full and i couldn’t help but laugh at him when he said he was at home when he was known to either be out of the country and once filming something that even i was attending at the time. I ended up removing following him cos i almost drowned in the crap he was talking.

  21. Agmada

    Yes, there has been a few since me ! My understanding is that despite BBC urging the top gear team to get on twitter and promote their adventures they have failed to take it up, to that end their is no official top gear personalities on twitter and my guess is that he they have not jumped on the band wagon now, they never will.

    The celeb does twitter thing is dieing out

    Russell

  22. The Adjuster says:

    You’re not the only one to have picked Hammond to impersonate on Twitter. Some weirdo has created a whole web of fake Twitter accounts and is passing him/herself off as Richard Hammond. The accounts included in his elaborate (but ludicrous) impersonation include: @TGR_Hammond, @JWSPuggie, @MindyRHammond, @Dr_Jez, @MrJDMay, @Online_Docs and many others.

    It’s hard to understand quite how gullible you’d need to be to believe that this is the real Hammond but it seems many are taken in. Some of the allegations and story lines invented by this impersonator are very damaging to Hammond’s reputation.

    The pillock behind this fraud has even created this hideous web site which promotes the Twitter accounts: http://topgearhammond.webs.com/

    Quite amazing.

  23. chelsea burrows says:

    cant you go to jail for doing that? i mean, if the real richard hammond were to find out, cant he press charges,, for fraud?

    but i must say, good idea, cuz you never really know who your talking to aye.

  24. The Adjuster says:

    Impersonating someone is against Twitter’s Rules:

    “You may not impersonate others through the Twitter service in a manner that does or is intended to mislead, confuse, or deceive others.”

    In addition, posting things which damage someone’s reputation is defamation. See this article for more details:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/feb/20/twitter-internet

    Even retweeting the posts of an impersonator could make you liable.

    The person(s) currently impersonating Richard Hammond (now using a renamed account – @RMHammond) is certainly defaming him, having invented a whole fantasy world which features fake friends and relatives. This person is preying on naive and vulnerable people, mainly women, who think they’ve been chosen to be amongst his followers.

    If any of the following group steps out of line (by questioning the imposter’s credibility) then the pack turns on him or her and blocks or reports the account holder to Twitter. It’s quite scary the way this is used to control and manipulate a bunch of very credulous people.


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