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Marlboro stubs out fake Twitter account

LONDON - Twitter has suspended a fake account that claimed to be the official voice of Marlboro cigarettes after the trademark owner Altria voiced concerns.

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Over the course of two weeks the account, using the handle 'Marlboro_cigs', embarked on a strategy of messaging and following other Twitter users who mentioned Marlboro in their tweets.

Active since October 29, the account had 52 followers and was following 93 people as of last weekend, shortly before it was suspended.

While Altria said it had contacted Twitter about the account, it is not yet clear why Twitter suspended it. Twitter had not responded to Brand Republic's request for comment at the time of writing.

Typical direct messages read "We follow Marlboro lovers" and "Glad you prefer our brand. We're pleased to please you. In case you want to know the news of Marlboro follow us."

It also sent out links to earnings previews for Altria, a plug for the genuine official website Marlboro.com and also a link to us-marlboro.com, a site which an Altria spokesman said was not linked to any group company.

The spokesman added that it was seeking to have us-marlboro.com taken down for infringing its trademarks.

Another Twitter account with the handle 'Marlboro' remains active though the Altria spokesman confirmed it was not operated by Philip Morris USA. The user has made one tweet, simply reading "Trademark".

The spokesman said Altria does not have a Twitter account and he was "unwilling to speculate on future plans".

According to a recent Advertising Age article several big companies have fallen victim to Twitter cybersquatters, including Diageo, Mastercard and Nestle.

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