Twitter has found itself the target of many celebrities recently for failing to ensure the people tweeting are who they say they are. It’s even led to a lawsuit being filed by St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. Now, Twitter is attempting to solve the problem by experimenting with Verified Accounts.
There was a problem created when social networks started popping up on the Internet here, there, and everywhere: people impersonating celebrities, well-known people, and companies. Social networking profiles are effectively faceless and open to widespread abuse because the majority of them need no kind of verification when being created. This isn’t like setting up a bank account.
Twitter has been hit particularly hard due to the easy nature of creating an account and then sending anonymous, short messages to everyone following that account. If a celebrity or person in the public eye cannot be bothered to set up their own Twitter page then why not do it yourself and have a laugh poking fun at the same time?
Because it can sometimes lead to legal action, that’s why. The aforementioned La Russa issued a lawsuit last month due to his being impersonated on Twitter. La Russa claims the fake tweets were “derogatory and demeaning” and caused him and others “emotional distress.” Contrary to reports this week, Twitter has not settled the lawsuit, but it is taking measures to stop a similar situation occurring in the future.
Biz Stone, Twitter co-founder, states on the Official Twitter Blog that the company is happy to go to court and see Twitter’s Terms of Service examined. It has no plans to settle out of court. But it has suspended the account that was the subject of the impersonation complaint.
Furthermore, recognizing that impersonation is a serious issue facing the company and social networks in general, Twitter will be rolling out a beta review version of Verified Accounts this summer. Initially available to “public officials, public agencies, famous artists, athletes, and other well known individuals at risk of impersonation” but not companies, it’s hoped this innovation will solve the problem once and for all.
Twitter is already doing its utmost to prevent impersonators invading the site, but it can always do more. This is a good step towards making sure people on Twitter are who they say they are, thus preventing confusion, embarrassment, and a potentially expensive legal battle for both sides. Maybe Kanye West can calm down now.