Entertaining, Annoying or Misleading?
Twitter, the 140 character micro-blogging service, now claims more than 50 million users or about 12 percent of the number of people who use Facebook. No matter, Twitter isn’t trying to be Facebook, but it is a place where breaking news is often first announced.
But Twitter isn’t without controversy something avid users are familiar with. For people who are less familiar with Twitter they may be surprised to discover that some users represent themselves under false pretenses even if they do so with humor or sarcasm.
Take the user who calls himself @BPGlobalPR. That name, which seems it should belong to the giant oil company behind the gigantic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, is owned and controlled by an anonymous user. Worse, or at least as far as BP is concerned, this person has attracted well over 100,000 followers, entertaining them with witty updates.
One example has been recorded as follows, “A lot of people are asking if we could have prevented this mess. Honestly, we have no clue. Our hindsight is 20/80. #bpcares” That update was made on May 27.
More recently, the faux BP official said, “If we’re being accused of being criminals, we want to be tried by a jury of our peers- wealthy execs who don’t give a damn. #fairisfair” Ouch. But that is the way some people view things these days.
For its part, BP has yet to hit 10,000 followers even as it does its best to offset what its joking adversary has to say or tweet. The company has been trying to keep people informed as they attempt to stop the leak, an ongoing problem that recently pushed past the six-week mark.
Twitter does offer a Verified Account service option for people who want to make sure that users know that they are offering a legitimate service. Still, that doesn’t stop others from establishing a bogus account in order to draw people away from acknowledged accounts.
But Twitter’s Impersonation Policy leaves room open for @BPGlobalPR and other types to do their mischief. Specifically, Twitter states:
Impersonation is pretending to be another person or entity in order to deceive. Impersonation is a violation of the Twitter Rules and may result in permanent account suspension.
Twitter users are allowed to create parody, commentary, or fan accounts. Please refer to Twitter’s Parody Policy for more information about these accounts. Accounts with the clear intent to confuse or mislead may be permanently suspended.
Under its parody guidelines, Twitter explains how this should be handled with instructions on what information should be included in the profile including Username, name, bio and communication with other users. Intentionally misleading or deceiving Twitter users can lead to permanent account suspension, but no legal recourse is offered.
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