TWIT­TER

Fa­mous names and fake ac­counts.

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE -

WHAT’S in a name? On­line, it’s quite a bit – par­tic­u­larly if you share a name with some­one a lot more fa­mous than you.

User­names can lead to some un­wanted at­ten­tion and un­de­serv­ing no­to­ri­ety, if you’re un­lucky enough to have the same name as some­body world fa­mous.

Mis­taken iden­tity on Twit­ter can hap­pen to users who hap­pen to share a user­name ( or Twit­ter han­dle) with a fa­mous fig­ure, and also to those who hi­jack a pop­u­lar brand name for their own ends ( or snap it up be­fore the le­git­i­mate or­gan­i­sa­tion or iden­tity does). Twit­ter’s ver­i­fi­ca­tion ser­vice is de­signed to end the con­fu­sion, re­quir­ing users with fa­mous names to prove their iden­tity and be proven real with the Twit­ter tick be­side their name.

But some of them don’t get around to it, or haven’t yet, and then there’s the gulli­bil­ity of ne­ti­zens, as­sum­ing the best.

Some­times, for the av­er­age ne­ti­zen with a fa­mous user­name, it’s not the best sit­u­a­tion to be in.

For ex­am­ple, Scot­tish 18- year- old Kelvin Macken­zie, who shares his name with a for­mer UK news­pa­per ed­i­tor, re­cently faced criticism for print­ing false ac­cu­sa­tions about a 1989 soc­cer tragedy that killed 96 peo­ple. Many at­tacks on the older MacKen­zie were di­rected at the un­re­lated younger man on­line, de­spite his ef­forts to clar­ify the mis­con­cep­tion that they were the same per­son.

Some­times it can all hap­pen so quickly.

When au­thor @Mar­garetAt­wood tweeted a warm wel­come to @Cor­ma­cMcCarthy, she wasn’t aware that it was 42- year- old un­pub­lished Scot­tish au­thor Michael Crossan, in­stead of the fa­mous Amer­i­can nov­el­ist. The truth came to light and the ac­count has since been sus­pended.

At what point does go­ing along with the pre­tence be­come iden­tity theft?

There are thou­sands of fake ac­counts in other peo­ple’s names on Twit­ter – that’s why the ser­vice has a val­i­da­tion process for celebri­ties.

If an ac­count is not ver­i­fied, as­sume it is fake.

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