Thursday 29 June 2023

Twitter Support must do better for helping celebrity and public victims of a global diet phishing scam!

Worldwide, diet scammers are marketing fake “endorsements” from celebrities across social media adverts, search engine ads and online content to phish victims’ financial details. The sheer volume of content the fraudsters produce is very difficult for celebrities and their representatives to tackle alone. One major obstacle to stopping the false marketing of “miracle weightloss products” is the reluctance of social media platforms to take down fake accounts and ads timeously. The fraudsters typically run the ads regionally for a few days in which they are displayed to hundreds of thousands of people. Just a fraction of an ad’s viewers need to share their financial details for the scam to be highly profitable!

This post presents the underwhelming example of reporting diet phishing accounts to Twitter Support as a way to spotlight the difficulties of tackling fraud via social media platforms. Hopefully publicly shaming @TwitterSupport will encourage its leaders to help address the global diet phishing scam properly, whilst also providing decent reporting options for celebrities and their representatives:

South African celebrities hijacked in fake diet adverts

A major factor in the “success" of this global scam (it has been running since 2014!) is the poor response from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media companies to formal requests to close fake accounts and their advertisement campaigns. Their ineffective responses are legally shortsighted: social media companies that repeatedly permit diet phishing ads on their platforms are complicit in a fraud, and possibly in the delict of passing off. For example, in South Africa, the diet phishing scam has undoubtedly harmed the reputation of Prof Tim Noakes and The Noakes Foundation through its fraudulent, direct misrepresentation, of fake products. These have certainly confused the public and @TheNoakesF has lost goodwill from the many victims of the fraud’s misrepresentation! 

Prof Noakes, is just one of many well-known individuals whose identities have been hijacked. The South African version of the scam has seen: Minki van der Westhuizen, Jeannie D (@Jeannieous), Basetsana Kumalo (@basetsanakumalo), Nkhensani Nkosi (@NkhensaniNkosi1), Shashi Naidoo (@SHASHINAIDOO), Tumi Morake (@tumi_morake), Dawn King (@DawnTKing), Ina Parmaan (@inapaarman) and Dr Shabir Madhi (@ShabirMadh) all having their reputations tarnished.

Since Prof Noakes’ identity was first hijacked in 2020, The Noakes Foundation (TNF) and partners (such as Dr Michael Mol and Hello Doctor) have tried many options to stop the scam. For example, TNF developed and publicised content against it via blogposts, such as Keto Extreme Scams Social Media Users Out of Thousands. TNF also produced these videos: Professor Tim Noakes vs. Diet Phishing: Exposing a Global Scam with Fake Celebrity Endorsements, Dr Michael Mol highlighting Diet Scams and Prof Noakes Speaks Out Against The Ongoing Diet Scam. Sadly, The Noakes Foundation’s repeated warnings to the public don’t seem to be making much difference in preventing new victims!

American, Australian, British and Swedish celebs hijacked, too!

In the United States, the diet phishing scam has also stolen the identities of major celebrities. Most are in popular TV franchises: Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah), Dr Mehmet Oz (@DrOz) Dr Phil (@DrPhil), Dolly Parton (@DollyParton), Kelly Clarkson (@kellyclarkson), the Kardashian Family (@kardashianshulu + @KimKardashian), Kelly Osbourne (@KellyOsbourne), Chrissy Teigen (@chrissyteigen), Martha Maccallum (@marthamaccallum), Blake Shelton (@blakeshelton) and #TomSelleck 🥸. It’s a Magnum opus of fraud!

Amazing female celebs in the United Kingdom have also seen their identities stolen. Diet phishing scammers have hijacked the IDs of Holly Willis (@hollywills), Amanda Holden (@AmandaHolden), Anne Hegerty (@anne_hegerty) and Dawn French (@Dawn_French). Even the British (@RoyalFamily) has not been immune, with the targeting of Catherine, the Princess of Wales (@KensingtonRoyal) and the Former Queen Elisabeth II, RIP and God Bless. Sadly, Meghan Duchess of Sussex, has been targeted too...

Down Under, well-known Australian personalities, such as its national treasure Maggie Beer (@maggie_beer) and Farmer Wants A Wife host Sam Armytage (@sam_armytage) have had their identities misused for fake #weightloss endorsements. And also Mr Embarrassing Bodies Down Under himself, Dr Brad McKay (@DrBradMcKay).

In Sweden, Dr Andreas Eenfeldt (@DrEenfeldt from @DietDoctor), another leader in the low carbohydrate movement, has been targeted in promotions of fake #keto products. Sadly, the fake ads seem to generate far more attention and action than his or my father's health advice!

N.B. The examples above are not extensive in terms of all victims. We largely know of celebrities in the Anglosphere whose identities were stolen, then featured in English language reports and related search engine results.

Deceptive "Tim Noakes" Twitter accounts market Keto Gummies

Just as the celebrity names stolen for the fake ads change often, so do the product names. A few examples of these fake names are Capsaicin, FigurWeightLossCapsules, Garcinia, Ketovatru and KetoLifePlus. Be warned that new "products" are added every month! One particularly common term used in the scammers'  product names is "Keto Gummies". A recent Twitter search for "Tim Noakes keto gummies" suggested many fake accounts in Figure 1 (just the top view!), plus diverse "product" names.

Figure 1. Twitter search results for Tim Noakes keto gummies (fake product accounts) (20 June, 2023)

Twitter Support does not think fake accounts are misleading and deceptive?!

These accounts have clearly been setup to fraudulently market "keto gummies" by suggesting an  association with "Tim Noakes". So, the logical response for any representative of The Noakes Foundation would seem to be reporting each fake account for violating Twitter’s misleading and deceptive identities policy, right?

Figure 2. Reporting the fake Tim Noakes Keto Gummies account to Twitter support

This is a very time consuming process- in the first place, the same complaint must be individually submitted for each account. Secondly, the representative reporting these complaints must also upload and/or email related proof of ID, business and legal documentation to Twitter Support before it will consider investigating whether impersonation is taking place.

Fake Twitter accounts, including those below, were reported to Twitter, with support documentation:
@NoakesGumm28693 0327118996     @TimNoakesHoax 0327120384
@TimGummies 0327119602                 @NoakesGumm91126 0327119675
@gummies_tim 0327120030                 @TimNoakes_ZA 0327119741
@tim_gummies 0327118910                 @NoakesSouth 0327118634
@timnoakesketo0 0327119362              @NoakesGumm22663 0327119487

In each case, @TwitterSupport replied that the following accounts are NOT in violation of Twitter’s misleading and deceptive identities policy. This would seem to contradict the obvious evidence that Tim Noakes' name has been hijacked by scammers for misleading victims with a fake product!

The Noakes Foundation has supplied its legal team with Twitter's related correspondence for review. I will update this post as developments progress (or fail to!) with the remarkably unhelpful and potentially criminally negligent @TwitterSupport.

This "Tim Noakes keto gummies" Twitter account is not deceptive?!

Figure 3. Fake @TimNoakesKetoGummies account

Figure 3. Fake @TimNoakesKetoGummies account
Figure 3 shows a typical example of a fake account's style. It uses Tim Noakes' name, plus stock photography in marketing a non-existent product. It only tweeted on May the 24th, and is followed by one person. Any knowledgeable complaint reviewer would surely consider this to be a case of a scammer creating a misleading and deceptive account for gaming Twitter's search engine. However, Twitter Support does not agree, nor explain why in its generic correspondence around each scam account.

From stealing victims' banking details to delivering dubious products

As fitness expert Reggie Wilson (@fitforfreelance) deftly explains in his 30 second video, Keto Gummies cannot work. It is most concerning that The Noakes Foundation has received reports that scammers are now delivering a physical product to South African victims. Not only are fake #KetoGummies products being marketed locally via BUT are also offered internationally via, and possibly other major online retailers!

Just as the scammers link themselves to celebs on Twitter, they also target the popular television franchises they're from. Notably: AmericasNextTopModel, DragonsDen, The Kardashians, The Oprah Show and Shark Tank. On Twitter, national businesses are also being misrepresented as selling these fake products, such as Walmart in the US, Jean Coutu pharmacies in Canada and Dischem in South Africa. Type in keto gummies into these retailers search engines and you will see that many options pop up, some seemingly associated with popular celebrities and TV franchises.

The Noakes Foundation is keen to work with affected celebrities, their representatives and business to raise the pressure on social media companies to make a proper response to the scammers and fake ads they host. Do let us know if you would like to help using the comments below, or by emailing

Thursday 22 June 2023

Recommendations for QDAS developers from 'Noteworthy disparities with four CAQDAS tools- explorations in organising live Twitter data', forthcoming

Dr Corrie Uys, Dr Pat Harpur and I are working on a manuscript that explores the research implications of differences in Qualitative data analysis software (QDAS) packages’ support for live Twitter data imports. This paper's software comparison contrasts the four prominent QDAS tools that support such imports, namely ATLAS.ti™, NVivo™, MAXQDA™ and QDA Miner™. We discuss key discrepancies in their use during the organisational phase of qualitative research and address related methodological issues.

Outside the paper's scope, our software comparison also uncovered several suggestions that developers of these QDAS tools might follow to improve the user experience for Twitter researchers:

1 Make tweets easier to sort & link them to their original context 

QDAS typically present a myriad of isolated tweets in one spreadsheet document that seems to divorce tweets from their conversational context. Researchers would benefit from being able to order and sort tweets as data. QDAS should also provide the option to quickly link to the original tweet in Twitter. Only NVivo made it relatively efficient to see the original context of a tweet in a Twitter discussion.

2 Provide more extensive support for modes and Twitter affordances

Linking to the original context with Twitter is particularly important where audio, emoji, font, image, and video modes and Twitter affordances for hashtagging and @mentions disappear. These may not be imported into QDAS spreadsheets as QDAS tools differ widely in the data they extract for Twitter affordances and modes. 

3 Support conversational analysis

Research into Twitter conversations was poorly supported by all four QDAS tools. Each presented a myriad of isolated tweets, with no way to display the original conversational thread. QDAS and Twitter should work together for providing qualitative researchers with ready access to Twitter exchanges. The added benefits of API2 functionality (such as conversation tracking) seem MIA in QDAS. Such integration would seem a useful step for promoting wider research into healthy conversations that Twitter described in 2018 as an important business priority.

4 Provide examples for live Twitter data analysis

QDAS companies that provide Twitter import functionality should provide resources that address not only how to extract data, but also examples of how their software is used in analysing microblogging data. While Twitter is actively encouraging and training academic researchers to transform raw JSON into CSV files for research purposes, QDAS companies seem to provide scant examples for live Twitter data analysis. The online resources they provide could be improved by adding examples. For example, we look forward to seeing how QDAS are used in analysing Twitter conversation threads.

5 Spotlight the black box of Twitter data organisation

QDAS developers could make the ‘black box’ of Twitter data organisation visible by showing a model of the data undergirding the tweets, and also the spreadsheet's data excludes. Researchers could benefit from such an overview for the great deal of Twitter fields that are missing.

6 Missing in extraction

Another black box concerns the process of data extraction from Twitter. While the functionality of running live imports for select criteria is efficient, more information could be shared regarding the context of the extraction. For example, what are the internal and external limits on the maximum number of tweets a QDAS can import.

Do let us know what you think of these suggestions by submitting a comment below, or contacting me.

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