Newsnight in the UK had an article on Twitter this evening. They interviewed Evan Williams, CEO of Twitter. There was the usual inane comments you’d expect for an interview where the comment has to be generalised towards the audience however one part of the interview struck me as an interesting conundrum and that is; how famous do you have to be to have a validated account?
It goes like this; Kirsty Walk, the interviewer, asks about impersonation and in particular Demi Moore. Williams indicated that Demi Moore’s account was a validated one (which apparently appears online, but I can’t see anywhere) and that the process for validation had involved him personally speaking to Ms Moore.
Kirsty Allsopp (Location, Location, Location) followed the article with a tweet saying: “I want a verfied account badge, that is clearly the thing to have.” – apologies for the spelling mistake, I copied it as-is. With only 14,660 followers, does that justify her receiving a validated account? At what level of following does it become justified, or do you need to be of a certain celebrity status to receive one?
Obviously the benefit of validated accounts is in ensuring someone isn’t passing off as a “genuine” celebrity. This also assumes that particular celebrities are worth impersonating, however surely everyone who may have the opportunity of a following on Twitter could also be impersonated and the impact of that could be equally serious for a “nobody” as a “celebrity” – imagine someone in your office creating a Twitter account for you and making critical comments about work colleagues without your knowledge.
So let’s move away from the assumption that somehow celebrities deserve some greater deal of protection in the social networking world than the rest of us; otherwise Twitter will turn into exactly what Kirsty Walk described it as – a way of following what celebrities are doing in their lives.
By the way, as of 23:18 this evening, I have a mere 689 followers…. @chrismevans