Wow! This is a pretty awesome week for social websites. Just 2 days after Facebook announced custom usernames and vanity URLs, Twitter has announced Twitter Verified Account (Beta):
What is a verified account?
To prevent identity confusion, Twitter is experimenting (beta testing) with a ‘Verified Account’ feature. We’re working to establish authenticity with people who deal with impersonation or identity confusion on a regular basis.
Great! Twitter is going to let me verify my account, so people know that it’s really me? Oh wait a minute. Crap. It’s not going to work for common folk like me. In their words, the Twitter Verified account program is for “well-known accounts that have had problems with impersonation or identity confusion. (For example, well-known artists, athletes, actors, public officials, and public agencies).” Oh awesome. Celebrities get even more privileges. What about us commoners, huh? What about us?
In all seriousness, this program is probably a great way to start dealing with the impersonation problems inherent in Twitter. Twitter is a kinda like the Myspace of micro-blogging. It’s so cool, and you can get a ton of followers/friends, many of whom you might not even know. But the bad part is that you really have no idea if the account is legitimately owned, managed and/or updated by the person you think it is. I mean, is that really Britney’s Twitter account? Really? How can you even tell? And then it starts feeling kinda slimy when some dude you don’t even know starts to follow your updates. It’s not as bad as Myspace, but it could be. And hopefully it won’t be. Because MySpace is soooo 2007.
Hopefully, the Twitter Verified Account program will begin to clean up Twitter’s impersonation issues. And then maybe Twitter can address all of the username squatters in a constructive manner. Or maybe they can address the recent study that shows 90% of tweets are made by 10% of Twitter users (link). Or maybe they can begin to address the reason behind roughly 80% of Twitter users only posting 0-9 times and then never returning(link). Just saying is all…
The Twitter Verified Account page goes on to clarify that, at this time, the Twitter verification service is not available for businesses. Well that sucks. I have big name clients who would love to verify their site. Customers want to know that they are dealing with the official Twitter page for Brand X. Why not open this Verified Account service up to brands? Oh yeah. Admittedly, it’s a time and resource issue (FYI: Twitter only has 58 employees right now).
Honestly, I’m just happy they created this service at all. Hopefully it’s the start of a glorious campaign to verify user accounts and corporate/brand accounts. I know there are a ton of brand on Twitter, doing their best to actively use Twitter to market their products. So c’mon, Twitter. I applaud Verified Account initiative, but please give us some brand support soon.
Be sure to check out the official Twitter Verified Account page for more details.