Impersonation is when someone creates a fake account with the purpose to make others think they are someone they are not. As we all move part of our identity online impersonation has turned into a serious issue on social media websites like twitter and Facebook. You may wonder why some people would want to create a profile on fx. twitter pretending they are a famous pop star or sports icon and post tweets telling the story of their glorious life and trips to all parts of the world. OK we’re just humans and if we don’t have enough fame in the real life building it up online may be an effective way taste the celebrity lifestyle. Celebrity profiles on social media websites with authentic image material and lots of “hot” news will attract serious attention. Being the person that someone else impersonates this way is on the other hand not much fun and then it turns into real life problems for the owners of the social media websites.
Last week, Twitter eas dealing with a lawsuit from St. Louis Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa. The lawsuit stemmed over an individual impersonating La Russa on Twitter.
Situations like this is a serious issue for Twitter and the other social media websites both commercially and because it generally lowers the trust that you know who you are networking with or following. There are certainly ways to prevent fake accounts but as they most likely will make it harder to sign up and interact with the websites it is some how working against the main success criteria – growth and more growth and then produce content as much as possible. It needs to be done in a really clever way to prevent damage on the main concept.
Twitter may not decide to settle and pay legal fees for the impersonation complaint but it looks like a lawsuit was the final push Twitter needed to announce a verification program to thwart celebrity impersonators on Twitter. Until now there has been no systematic way for Twitter to verify that a celebrity tweeter was real. Twitter has now announced their verified accounts beta program to prevent more lawsuits of this nature.
Some account already today is showing the Verified Account Logo as you can se an example of here. Why Barack Obamas twitter account has not yet been verifies is hard to tell? Lets hope it has not been impersonated!
Just to put this into context. Fasebook have seen the same type of issues and I stumbled over this (rather old) article that I think quite well emphasise the severity of the problem. Being a prince for a short time in the virtual world did have a high prize for this individual. Moroccan Man Jailed For Fake Facebook Profile