5. Twitter’s reaction and future plans

Following the La Russa lawsuit, Twitter announced plans to verify profiles of celebrities, public agencies and public figures.

verified accounts“We do recognize an opportunity to improve Twitter user experience and clear up confusion beyond simply removing impersonation accounts once alerted. We’ll be experimenting with a beta preview of what we’re calling Verified Accounts this summer,” wrote Biz Stone on the Twitter blog. (Stone, 2009)

The verified accounts feature a special seal. Twitter points out that this doesn’t mean accounts without the seal are fake. Twitter suggests that users determine authenticity by checking the person or agency’s official website for a link back to their Twitter account. (Verified Account Policy, 2009)

President Obama's verified account

President Obama's verified account

A verified account means that Twitter has been in contact with the person or entity the account is representing and verified that it’s approved. But, Twitter points out, this doesn’t mean they’ve verified who is writing the tweets. (Verified Account Policy, 2009)

Twitter isn’t currently offering verified accounts for businesses. But businesses have certainly been the targets of fake profiles. Twitter terminated a fake Exxon Mobil profile after the company complained. Bank of America also discovered an imposter profile. American Airlines registered every possible Twitter username that could be associated with the airline after finding a fake AmericanAir profile. (Schaffner, 2009)

There is widespread speculation that verified business accounts may some day be part of paid business services on Twitter. (McCarthy, 2009) Co-founder Biz Stone has said that Twitter isn’t as interested in advertising, but more so in value-added services, like verified accounts, that they can charge for. (Arrington, 2009) “Users following brands would know it was really Dell Inc. or Coca-Cola Co. sending Tweets,” Stone has said. (King & Womack, 2009)

Twitter has been planting the seeds for expanding business services with its “Twitter 101 for Businesses” feature. “Twitter will likely introduce a bundle of paid services later this year for businesses to use to do things like verify their accounts and analyze traffic to their Twitter profiles,” Anamitra Banerji, manager of commercial products at Twitter, told The New York Times Bits blog. (Miller, 2009)

It seems that in the near future, businesses will be able to pay for verified accounts, among other services. Whether businesses will want to pay for an account that has always been free isn’t clear, but many will likely welcome the chance to have a verified account.

>> 6. Conclusions

©2009 Amy Rainey All Rights Reserved


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