How to thwart social media counterfeiters


At the Cosmetics Business Regulatory Summit, Emma Monks, Head of Trust & Safety at Crisp Thinking, gave her top ten tips on spotting fakes vendors online – and how you can help combat the trade 

Emma Monks

Emma Monks

Over 2.5% of all estimated world trade is made up of fake goods. Moreover, in the case of cosmetics, online marketplaces like Amazon and Alibaba have atomised the market for counterfeit goods.

In addition to these facts, almost all beauty brands now have social media presence with up to 89% of European beauty shoppers having brought from Facebook and 72% having made a purchasing choice after seeing something on Instagram.

This week at the Cosmetics Business Regulatory Summit in Barcelona, Emma Monks, Head of Trust & Safety at Crisp Thinking, told delegates at the that this environment made for a 'perfect storm' for counterfeiting.

Gen Z and millennials, she said, want convenience, immediacy and a good deal – unfortunately this makes them easy dupes to whom criminals can sell fakes.

So what, she asked, can marketing teams/digital teams do?

Monks provided ten social media signs to look out for to warn you that you have a counterfeiter:

  1. Links to unofficial sites of profiles in Instagram comments
  2. Follow me requests in comments (could be counterfeiters)
  3. Unverified accounts
  4. WhatsApp contact details in comments
  5. Customer callouts exposing fake accounts
  6. Comments disabled (to prevent customer callouts)
  7. Adverse reactions to products reported on social
  8. Review sites with suspiciously poor reviews
  9. If offers are too good to be true
  10. Someone hashtagging multiple brands.

Potential solutions, said Monks, include image analysis (which used artificial intelligence and taught machine learning to look at logos) and profiling 'bad actors', which takes a whole load of signals – such as frequency of content, where thy post from, etc, to make up a profile of a person.

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"Work closely with other teams and educate your own customers," advises Monks. "If you teach them what fakes look like and give them a good reporting avenue, then you will be enhancing the power of your own consumers in fighting this battle."