Just days after my post on the risks of cybersquatting in Social Media, Twitter have annouced that they are beta-testing account verification.
According to the official statement, to “prevent identity confusion, Twitter is experimenting with a ‘Verified Account’ feature […] working to establish authenticity with people who deal with impersonation or identity confusion on a regular basis.”
As the Guardian’s Technology Blog observes, many questions are as yet unanswered, and the focus appears to be on celebrities accounts just now. It’s a step in the right direction, but will it come at a cost?
Speculation has been rife on how Twitter will convert its success to profit. It’s possible that a ‘premium’ account model may be introduced, and account verification could well be a feature of that. The result would be many organisations being effectively held to ransom – forced to upgrade to a verified account to avoid the risks discussed in my previous post.
And the task of verifying all these accounts will be huge. As the Guardian article points out, ‘celebrity accounts’ include everything from
Britney Spears and Oprah down to the thousands of members of various sports teams, rock bands, parliaments, TV and radio stations, and so on.
All of the above have a brand or reputation to protect, so all would benefit from this type of verification. Twitter says that they’ll be starting with
well-known accounts that have had problems with impersonation or identity confusion. (For example, well-known artists, athletes, actors, public officials, and public agencies)
But it doesn’t say whether that will be limited to US public agencies, and it specifically says it won’t be supporting businesses just yet.
Twitter are inviting people who have had problems with fraudulent accounts to contact them via a dedicated feedback form, and in the meantime they are promoting the reciprocal link method (but they would, wouldn’t they – telling organisations that they need to link to Twitter from their homepage for security reasons is one clever piece of self-promotion).
This move has certainly addressed a major concern, and it’s great to see Twitter being proactive in this way. How they roll it out remains to be seen, but it’s good news so far.