An artist with the same name as the pop star Meghan Trainor found herself locked out of her social media accounts last week after Google and Twitter wrongly concluded she was attempting to impersonate her namesake, reports Gizmodo. Although the only explanation Google gave for her Gmail suspension was that Trainor had violated its company policies, YouTube and Twitter both confirmed that the suspension was due to an impersonation complaint.
Trainor the artist has been practicing her craft for 15 years, creating her YouTube Channel in December 2013 and her Twitter account in September 2012. Trainor the pop star shot to fame with the release of her hit single “All About That Bass” in June of 2014. Today, Trainor the artist has a much smaller online following than Trainor the pop star, with roughly one thousand Twitter followers compared to the 2.1 million of her namesake. Trainor told Gizmodo that the singer originally tried to buy the artist’s domain, meghantrainor.com, when she was first starting out.
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Although Trainor was able to regain access to the accounts after challenging the suspension, she admits that the incident impacted upon her ability to do her job. Even attempting to resolve the issue was made complicated when her Twitter account was locked after she attempted to draw attention to the problem, meaning she was locked out of the three accounts simultaneously.
Online impersonation has become a problem for online platforms after criminals have attempted to piggyback off of the popularity of famous figures to promote their scams. Last year Twitter saw an epidemic of Elon Musk imitators with handles like @elonmuskik promising to give away cryptocurrency if people sent them a small initial payment. Twitter later said it would remove such accounts, and began locking any unverified accounts that changed their name to Elon Musk — although these accounts could reverse this decision by proving their authenticity.
What Meghan Trainor’s case illustrates is that these rules, and the algorithms that enforce them, can be blunt instruments with dire implications for those lacking celebrity clout.