Twitter to add verified accounts–while denying it has a problem

June 8, 2009

I love the way Twitter refused to acknowledged it has a problem with fake Twitter accounts, even while admitting that it was working on a way to fix the problem. Twitter was sued by St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa over a fake Twitter account and here’s how co-founder Biz Stone responded:

“With due respect to the man and his notable work, Mr. La Russa’s lawsuit was an unnecessary waste of judicial resources bordering on frivolous, ” Stone wrote in a post that went up Saturday. “Twitter’s Terms of Service are fair and we believe will be upheld in a court that will ultimately dismiss Mr. La Russa’s lawsuit.”

Fake Twitter accounts are a real problem–particularly in the area of Twitter use where I am most concerned and that is crisis and emergency response communications. In one drill recently where I served as part of “Truth” or the Simulation Cell, I provided and inject where a local Twit set up a Twitter account posing as the local Joint Information Center, then proceeded to give all kinds of false information. It caused a bit of head scratching in the JIC trying to figure out how to put a stop to that. They asked me–can’t we just ask Twitter to shut it down? Nope. No can do. (First off, ever try to actually talk to someone at Twitter about a customer service problem? Yeah, right.)

So while I am glad they are going to make this a little less of a problem with the “verified account” seal of approval, I got a big kick out of the way they announced it. Seems in the age of transparency lawyers are still hanging in the background driving messages. It’s the only reason I can possibly come up with for the snarky attack on Tony LaRussa (bordering on frivolous?  Hey Mr. Stone, do you want people out there pretending to be you with no way of stopping them?) even while promising to fix the problem. I can hear the discussion:

“You can’t come out and announce a fix to fake accounts when we have this lawsuit going, the plaintiff’s attorney will rip you apart.”

“But we got to fix the problem–these fake accounts are hurting our brand.”

“We have to dissociate the announcement from the lawsuit.”

“Ok, how about we talk about how ridiculous it is and that we will win and cry “frivolous.” That way we will fool people into thinking we think there is no problem.”

“Sure, that should work.”


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4 Responses to “Twitter to add verified accounts–while denying it has a problem”

  1. Joel Says:

    What sort of an exercise was it that you did the inject for? That’s a great idea and one I’ll probably add to the next exercise I work on (I’m an exercise planner for Feds), if only to demonstrate the double-edged nature of tools like Twitter to the External Affairs folks.

    • gbaron Says:

      It was for the PIOs of a sizeable urban area–part of UASI region. About 30 PIOs from different agencies in the region participated.

  2. Lach Says:

    Guess this news makes Nixle effectively useless…


  3. […] of pulling those stats and adding a little egocasting into the equation. Secondly, I’d follow in the footsteps of Twitter and put a ‘verified account’ badge on the genuine artist’s entry on the search results page. It’s not difficult to work […]


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