First, a note to myself to step away from WordPress when in an emotional moment regarding social media topics (such as, say, trust on Twitter).
After careful consideration and a good conversation with Patrick earlier, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are some flaws in how I’d implement the authentication of Twitter accounts.
The biggest flaw which came out is that if big companies and celebrities were given the option to “certify” their accounts, would that make “normal folks” such as myself automatically invalid? Because, if you think about it, authenticated accounts — one that have been verified by Twitter as “legit” — could unintentionally create a class of “better” users than the standard accounts. The credibility lent those accounts could potentially diminish greatly from a standard account — and after all, there’s a strong sentiment for Twitter to remain a level playing field (all it takes is a search for the Suggested Users feature to see the passion on both sides of that argument).
The second biggest flaw? How in the world would Twitter implement such a system to authenticate users when it can’t keep its system stable? When the basic functionality of Twitter, including updating and following, is more often than not a crapshoot, those required fixes take priority. Period. Twitter doesn’t have the capacity to properly serve up tweets at times, much less authenticate users.
The solution? If you’re a company conducting business on Twitter, or perhaps a celebrity, make sure your Twitter account is referenced somewhere on your website, so we at least know it’s really you rather than an imposter like the false Jerry Rice or the guy who was pretending to be LeVar Burton (which eventually caused the real LeVar Burton to join the service). With this in mind, it’s utterly mind-boggling that Comcast doesn’t reference their Twitter contacts on their Contact Us page — or, for that matter, anywhere on comcast.com. Again, Comcast’s efforts are well-documented in the media, but what if I’m a user completely green to Twitter, who logs on for the first time, mentions Comcast, and is reached out to by one of the agents? The Comcast site doesn’t give me the option of making sure the Comcast Twitter agent is who he says he is. Users are increasingly becoming smarter, and they may be more resistant to outreach efforts if the company’s Twitter presence isn’t noted on their website.
Oh, and I was wrong on @cnnbrk too. Apparently CNN has been working with that account, just in a consulting capacity, over the last couple years, and only recently acquired the account. I still think it’s odd that the account acquisition was just this week, considering it’s been around for a long time, but the fact that CNN was aware and working with the account makes me feel better. I have far less of a problem with something done in good faith than something done to intentionally defraud people.
Clearly, it’s time for a break from WordPress already, and I’ve only been back to writing regularly over the last few days. Jeez. :P