Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Amazing Story of Hasty and Erroneous Twitter Verification - The Case of @Wendy_Deng

Excerpt from a Time.com story. Link to full story below.

Rupert Murdoch Has Joined Twitter, But His Wife’s Account Isn’t Real
By William Lee Adams | @willyleeadams

The case of the fake Wendi Deng Twitter account began on Dec. 31, when Deng’s husband joined the microblogging site using the name @rupertmurdoch. Twitter certified the account as authentic, plastering the blue-and-white check mark on its profile page. His tweets were harmless enough: he devoted his 140 characters to relaying details of his family holiday in St. Barth’s in the Caribbean. “Great time in sea with young daughters, uboating,” read one. “I LOVE the film ‘we bought a zoo’, a great family movie. Very proud of fox team who made this great film,” read another.

On Jan. 1, an account called @wendi_deng cropped up, and its profile proclaimed it was Wendi Deng Murdoch herself. “Joining my husband @rupertmurdoch in our new digital adventure on Twitter.”


I read the entire Twitter timeline of @Wendi_Deng and I find it -- like the numerous spoof accounts thriving on social media -- trying to use the system for mainly fun purposes. The person behind the account didn't harm anyone in the process, s/he actually portrayed Wendi Deng as a real person, protective of her husband, playful and with a not-so-bad sense of humor.

The main problem here is not what the @Wendi_Deng character did or said. As I see it, the problem lies in Twitter's verification of the @Wendi_Deng account which led media outlets to believe the account belongs to Murdoch's wife and started the usual frenzy coverage of it. Why did Twitter verify the account so quickly, and without any authentication process? The person behind the @Wendi_Deng account claims she was shocked by the verification as much others were. She gave credit who were still skeptical even after the Twitter verification.

What do you think? Who's in the wrong here? How do you feel about those who impersonate celebrities on social media? What do you think people should do to protect their name, identity and reputation online?


Keep the conversation going...

Anonymous Nathalie O said...

It seems that this topic is on the mind of many people these days. I'd love to hear your opinion on how best to protect a reputation online. It seems that the minute you sign up to a social network, you give up your right to privacy or the accuracy of any information about you. Can someone be transparent and protected at the same time? I'm afraid not!

January 4, 2012 at 10:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for celebrities and public figures. Between astroturfing and spamming and identity theft, there is no way to survive the haters unharmed. I keep searching for my name to make sure no one is mentioning me with negative comments. I'm not sure what to do if that happens one day and I will have to deal with a negative campaign. Mrs Nasr, you went through a major crisis of negativity and (I think it's fair to say) you lost to those who campaigned against you. Can you ever repair the damage once it's done? Any advice or insight is greatly appreciated.

January 4, 2012 at 11:55 PM  
Anonymous Octavia said...

Thank you for your comments.. I share your concerns and hope to address some of the issues you raised in a separate blog post. For now, I came across a couple of interesting quotes that I'll be sharing with you. The issue of privacy and online reputation is indeed on the minds of many and for a good reason. Please keep commenting on this very important topic. Your views will be included in future updates.

January 5, 2012 at 12:43 AM  
Blogger Octavia Nasr said...

A few updates to the story: Early Wednesday, the tweets by the fake @Wendi-Deng account were no longer available and the account's followers dropped from tens of thousands to a handful. Now the account has a new name @WendiMurdoch1 with more than 300 followers and a few tweets. The person behind the account is promoting a Facebook page. It's obviously someone who knows what they're doing and have no plans to go away. Like many others, I'd like to hear from Twitter on how they got themselves into this mess.

January 5, 2012 at 12:44 AM  
Blogger Octavia Nasr said...

Tom Gara, Gulf News Editor at the Financial Times, says:

Viral internet things keep reminding me of the greay Kesey / Cuckoo's Nest quote: "It's the truth, even if it didn't happen"

Source: @tomgara Twitter Timeline https://twitter.com/#!/tomgara/status/154584862811103232

January 5, 2012 at 12:51 AM  
Blogger Octavia Nasr said...

Anderson Cooper, CNN Anchor, says:

Your online reputation can be exposed & destroyed -- and what’s written doesn’t even have to be true. #ProtectYourself

Source: @andersoncooper Twitter Timeline https://twitter.com/#!/andersoncooper/status/154579420768776193

January 5, 2012 at 12:54 AM  

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