Twitter looks to verify accounts after legal woes


Twitter has said that this summer it will trial a system to verify accounts but it won't initially be made available to businesses.

At the moment, impersonating someone else on the social networking service is against Twitter's terms of service, but it clearly happens - to celebs and even the Queen.

"Impersonation violates Twitter's terms of service and we take the issue seriously. We suspend, delete, or transfer control of accounts known to be impersonation," said Twitter co-founder Biz Stone wrote on the site's blog.

Stone noted that Tony La Russa, the manager of American baseball team the St. Louis Cardinals, was impersonated on the site. Twitter "took action" to fix the problem, but still faced a lawsuit from the manager.

"Reports this week that Twitter has settled a law suit and officially agreed to pay legal fees for an impersonation complaint that was taken care of by our support staff in accordance with our Terms are erroneous," Stone explained. "Twitter has not settled, nor do we plan to settle or pay."

"With due respect to the man and his notable work, Mr. La Russa's lawsuit was an unnecessary waste of judicial resources bordering on frivolous," Stone added.

Verified Accounts

With that in mind, Twitter is trialling an Accounts Verification system. The new service will give a special seal to "public officials, public agencies, famous artists, athletes, and other well known individuals at risk of impersonation," Stone said, to show that they're the real deal.

More accounts could be verified in the future, but Stone said the service will start small. "Initially, verification will not be tested with businesses. However, we do see an opportunity in that arena so we'll keep you posted when we have something to share," he noted.

Such a move could make Twitter a bit more business friendly, and prevent the site being used to damage a brand. But Stone stressed that Twitter accounts without a "verification seal" aren't therefore fake, and advised users to verify accounts themselves by checking the official website of a business or celeb for a link back to the feed.

Follow IT PRO on Twitter here, and read on for tips on using Twitter for your business.