Bank of America's Google+ page is "brand-jacked"

Bank of America's Google+ page is "brand-jacked"

Summary: Google+ launched its business pages a week ago. One of the highest profile sites is from Bank of America. Or is it? Judging by the biting satirical content, Google has been thoroughly punked.

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Last week, Google+ finally got around to rolling out its long-awaited business pages. One of the first high-profile businesses to sign up was Bank of America.

Or was it?

As Carl Franzen at TalkingPointsMemo.com reported tonight, that page, complete with the Bank of America logo and pictures of corporate officers, appears to be a viciously satirical prank.

The company's Google+ tagline? "We took your bailout money and your mortgage rates are going up."

On the About page, the satire cuts even deeper:

We are committed to making as much money as possible from usury, coercion, bribery, insider trading, extortion, and debit card fees as possible.

The page, which has been up for nearly a week, has already attracted more than 600 followers and 389 +1s. Update: Overnight, the popularity of the page has skyrocketed. It now has well over 1,000 followers, and the number of +1s has nearly doubled.

It hasn't, however, drawn the attention of Google+ management, which didn't mention the possibility of "brand-jacking" in its announcement.

The phony page shows up first if you type Bank of America in the Google+ search box, ahead of what might or might not be the authentic business page for the banking giant:

Here's a screen shot of the satirical page.

How much longer will that page remain up?

This is only the latest in a series of miscues by Google, which seems to have underestimated the interest in its new service from legitimate fans and from pranksters.

As I wrote last month:

Clearly, Google+ didn’t start out with a vision. If it had, then Google would not have been blindsided by the controversy over its insistence on people using their real names. That little detail should have been part of the very first discussion, before a single mockup was sketched and before a single line of code was written.

An even bigger design blunder was the idea that sorting your contacts into Circles would allow users to control the privacy of everything they post. Again, it’s a reaction to Facebook and its privacy headaches. But somebody really, really didn’t think that one through.

What's especially striking about this mistake is that Google has had months to prepare for the launch of business pages. Anyone who has spent more than a microsecond in social media knows that brand-jacking is inevitable, whether it's done as a prank or for more malicious purposes. This example is clearly a form of political protest, but a more subtle corporate identity thief could easily help himself to a well-known brand name and use it for criminal purposes: to redirect Google+ visitors to phony support pages for harvesting user names and passwords, for example.

One would expect that Google would have processes in place to help legitimate businesses secure their names. But that hasn't happened.

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Topics: Apps, Google, Social Enterprise

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48 comments
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  • RE: Bank of America's Google+ page is

    People are still using Google+?
    Playdrv4me
    • RE: Bank of America's Google+ page is

      @Playdrv4me People are still using Facebook?
      CobraA1
      • RE: Bank of America's Google+ page is

        @CobraA1 <br><br>Why wouldn't they? All "evil" Facebook had to do was sit back, observe, copy and then apply G+'s best improvements and innovations in various capacities. They satisfied the wants of existing users perusing G+, and provided more value for new users such that the ultimate unintended effect of G+ was, in the end, to add more fuel to Facebook's raging inferno.<br><br>Google then proceeded to drop the ball by NOT having a business page strategy ready at startup. Instead, tyrannically shuttering accounts of well known personalities who signed up with their well known pseudonyms. When they finally DID bring about a response to this much requested feature, the article above demonstrates how poorly it was implemented. <br><br>I realize within the tech community it's "hip" and "cool" to be part of G+, but realistically, if that's the only group that ever embraces it, it will merely stagnate. They can't win for losing with this thing.
        Playdrv4me
      • RE: Bank of America's Google+ page is

        @above, seen you twice in a G+ topic based...<br><br>Take a sip son, Google knows what they doing here, and G+ is going to success, whether you like it or not.<br><br>Facebook doesn't have a chance after seeing stuff like G+ integrated in Google search...<br><br>See this and wow yourself -i.imgur.com/YlBbb.jpg
        klado
    • RE: Bank of America's Google+ page is

      @Playdrv4me People are still trolling ZDNet Blogs?
      jmwells21
      • RE: Bank of America's Google+ page is

        @jmwells21

        Lame.
        Playdrv4me
    • RE: Bank of America's Google+ page is

      @Playdrv4me <br>lol, of course the first comment starts a retarded G+/facebook flame war.... thanks for my daily dose of comedy guys.
      thisnameisok
      • RE: Bank of America's Google+ page is

        @thisnameisok : Now to start a Android / iOS flamewar.
        In
        3
        2
        1
        meski.oz@...
    • RE: Bank of America's Google+ page is

      @Playdrv4me

      Whats Google+
      techsdfdsblogger
  • RE: Bank of America's Google+ page is

    Welcome to the new land rush. Same as domain names, same as Twitter, same as Facebook - grab your name before it's taken!
    CobraA1
    • RE: Bank of America's Google+ page is

      @CobraA1, the point is that there can be multiple pages with the same name. Grab your name before it???s taken ??? then watch someone else take it anyway.
      Joel Salomon
  • RE: Bank of America's Google+ page is

    Seriously? That is pathetic and I'd be throwing a sh!#fit if I was BoA.
    hubivedder
  • Two factor authentication is needed

    The n'er do wells don't like giving out their phone number.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
    • RE: Bank of America's Google+ page is

      @Diddly T. Schmutz * Your Linux Advocate

      And I don't either. Maybe you like to give out personal information, heck maybe Diddly P. Schmutz is really a stolen identity, but a lot of us still don't.

      One would think, though, that Google has a means to verify if a person actually works for a company they're creating a page for.
      aep528
      • RE: Bank of America's Google+ page is

        @aep528

        "...heck maybe Diddly P. Schmutz is really a stolen identity..."

        That gave me quite the chuckle.
        Playdrv4me
  • RE: Bank of America's Google+ page is

    Outstanding! I don't know who did it, but I'd like to buy them a beer.
    Skippy99
    • RE: Bank of America's Google+ page is

      @Skippy99 +1 Make that a pitcher.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
      • RE: Bank of America's Google+ page is

        @Rabid Howler Monkey Make that a keg.
        Imrhien
    • RE: Bank of America's Google+ page is

      @Skippy99 +1
      sackbut
    • RE: Bank of America's Google+ page is

      @Skippy99

      Me too?
      bashmaki