This summer, Twitter is apparently planning to introduce “verified” accounts for celebrities, public officials, government agencies “and other well known individuals at risk of impersonation.” At first blush, this sounds like a good move: it will put many public affairs shops at ease and will level the playing field for agencies coming late to the Twitter party.
While this seems like a “no brainer” for individuals–music heart-throbs, actors, sports heroes–how this plays out for the persona of a million-employee+ government agency is another story. Which ONE of the million+ owns the verified account? Can they share it? What “verifies” it and will it have multi-user licenses?! You see the potential problem…
This conundrum is just one harbinger of the non-hierarchical world that’s emerging thanks to the world-rocking communication tools and technologies that have started with Web 2.0 and social media. The challenges around identity that we’re starting to see with verified Twitter accounts and personalized Facebook URLs (coming to a Facebook account near you this Saturday, 6/13) are indicative of a bigger societal shift that none of us can wrap our arms around because it’s too huge to comprehend.
The possibilities enabled by social media and collaboration are stretching the boundaries of the structures upon which we rely to define our roles, responsibilities and relationships. When some of these boundaries stretch so far that they snap, we just might find that they were no longer holding anything back anyway.
I think this is great for government agencies. Identities are key and for awhile many people have claimed Twitter IDs and ran them as unofficial channels for agencies (for example a friend ran a whitehouse Twitter feed through RSS until the official channel came up).
I would just be interested in how they propose to manage this verification process, am i going to have to fax something off? there’s so many questions like Can I have a domain based usergroup via Twitter (ie multiple people in the one agency?)
This may be the beginning of the commercialization of Twitter with paid for accounts – which is fine but I have the username leesargent – what if tomorrow another Lee Sargent becomes famous and wants my username and is willing to pay for it?
This also becomes an issue with departments with the same abbreviations etc DPI.
Really good questions and points you raise, Lee. I suppose these are challenges whose solutions will evolve…
case in point for organizations, the Army Medical Department, a group well-known as the AMEDD, won’t be able to snag @amedd on twitter b/c it’s already taken by some consultant in Vancouver.
The Forest Service may run itno many situations where a Twitter profile name is taken by someone with a business similar to the Forest name in that same locality – how government agencies develop, establish and maintain naming protocols will also become an issue, particularly if some other entity has taken a name that falls into the protocol.