How Celebrity Imposters Hurt Twitter’s Credibility

By | February 24, 2009

Simon Owens had read a post on this blog about the Dalai Lama supposedly opening a Twitter account and he wrote in to let readers here know about an article he wrote.  Interesting reading. He interviewed one of Twitter’s co-founders for PBS.


… When the news broke that the Dalai Lama had opened a Twitter account, several journalists and bloggers quickly filed stories reporting the debut, only to have to issue corrections when it was revealed to be fake. The incident highlighted the often difficult balance journalists must strike when trying to verify these accounts while still remaining timely.

Lidija Davis, a regular writer for ReadWriteWeb, was one of the web journalists who had to update her piece to explain that the handle was a fake. In a phone interview last week, she explained that in many cases it’s impossible to get hold of a person’s press rep at odd hours when she’s quickly filing a story.

“News is very different now and you want to get the news out there as quickly as you can,” she said. “And though it’s no excuse, there aren’t people in the middle of the night standing by their phones to verify a story.”

Davis explained that this isn’t just a problem for journalists, but for social networks and regular users as well, so much so that eventually social media platforms and brands will have to address the issue directly. But as for how they will address it, she said she had no idea.

“It’s a huge problem,” she said. “It’s a stage where everyone is still learning, Twitter is still learning, I’m still learning how to deal with this kind of story.”

Almost on cue, I received word shortly after beginning this article that the actress and singer Miley Cyrus’ Twitter account had been briefly hacked. “IM NOT A F***ING ROLE MODLE I HATE LITTLE KIDS,” the impostor tweeted….

Simon Owens is a former newspaper journalist and an associate editor for MediaShift.  He currently works as an online analyst for New Media Strategies. You can read more of his writing at his blog or contact him at simon.bloggasm[at]

via MediaShift . How Celebrity Imposters Hurt Twitter’s Credibility | PBS.

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