Google+ Pages has had its first official brandjacking: someone has set up a fake page for Bank of America, poking fun of the bank’s processes with mocking posts and images. (via Talking Points Memo). The page appears to have been live for a week, Talking Points say, which prompts concerns about Google’s protections and processes.
Still a Novel Channel
For all its mimicry of Facebook, Google+ Pages is still a novel channel for brands, with many pros and cons that companies are now in the process of evaluating.
Clearly, appropriating its name violates U.S. law. Bank of America has had experience with such mischief in the past.
Last year, when WikiLeak said it would release information that will be very damaging to a large financial institution, it was widely believed that Bank of America was the institution in question. The bank has said it didn’t know what the leak could be – but apparently it was prepared for the worst by registering domain names that could possibly be used to criticize or make fun of it.
The BP Oil Spill Example
While such pre-emptive moves are smart, and legal responses within their right, companies have to take care not to appear too ham-handed against sites which can be qualified as "all in good fun", thus worsening an already poor image.
BP, responsible for the Gulf oil spill in 2010, took that lesson to heart and restrained itself from going after a widely-watched fake Twitter account that poked fun at its restoration efforts.