"How can the same thing happen to the same guy twice?"
(Screenshot by Nic Healey/CNET Australia)
My face got stolen again, along with my name this time, on a YouTube channel dedicated to HTML and "crunking up".
I don't know what it was in particular about my, but I actually found it pretty amusing. Something about the whole "Stephen, 44, Melbourne" just seemed more surreal and funny than any real violation of my identity.
But this one is a little a different. This is a YouTube and Google+ user account with not only my face attached to it, but also my real name.
The user channel hosts 30 videos. Twenty nine of these are part of a tutorial series on HTML. One is a video of exercises that will, and I quote, "crunk you up".
I came across it thanks to my vanity Google alert — don't judge me. Lots of media types use them. I think. That's what I tell myself, at least.
So I did a little bit of digging around and I've uncovered a few things:
The owner of the channel is Albanian and enjoys music
He commented on the official "Gangnam Style" video only one month ago, which proves it isn't me, cause I was all over Psy well before then
At least as recently as 19 January 2013, the Google+ account attached to the YouTube channel was actually known as Veton Gashi.
Veton Gashi. I'm not sure if it's a common Albanian name, but a little judicious application of Google found me a Veton Gashi on LinkedIn who's the owner of a design studio, which seems to fit in with the HTML tutorials. (The "getting crunked up" I'll leave to everyone's imagination.)
He may also be the same Veton Gashi who has the twitter handle of @Vegassi. I'm guessing, but @Vegassi has tweeted at Rita Ora, and the Nic Healey YouTube channel recently subscribed to the Rita Ora YouTube channel, so I'm feeling fairly confident in making that guess.
(As a total aside, Veton Gashi is quite a snappy dresser — definitely some great taste in leather jackets. Also, just in case Gashi has a Google alert of his own: "hi!")
Ignoring all of that, let's talk about the process of reporting the fake Nic Healey YouTube account. It took seconds. I clicked on the Report button at the bottom of the page, chose "Report User" and filled in a form and uploaded a scan of my driver's licence.
It was that simple — the hard part was the scanning of my ID, because, really, who has a scanner these days?
I clicked send on the form, and was rewarded with a very quick automated reply from YouTube support letting me know someone would be in touch.
That was Friday. By Monday, I was still waiting. I contacted Google's Australian PR to see how long Google usually takes to respond to impersonation complaints — after all, even Facebook got back to me quicker, even if it was to tell me it couldn't do anything. I'll update if and when Google gets back to me.
I took a further step and reported the offending Google+ account, as well — it was the exact same procedure and, again, quick and easy. This time, however, I didn't even get a response email.
So, as of the time of writing, there is still a YouTube channel and a Google+ page purporting to be me both in name and image.
Google certainly has a very simple way of reporting issues regarding impersonation. Whether it's effective as well remains to be seen, but in the race between Facebook, Skeevy Dev and Google as to who has been the most helpful when my face has been stolen,.