Abusing Verification - Segueing with Shatner

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You know that if I have a blog and I’m rambling on about Social Media, you knew this topic was going to rear its head again.  Verification!

So let me start by giving you my position on this and then discuss it. First of all I believe that Verification is necessary in several circumstances. 

1. When someone is trusted by the public to provide information (newscasters, those on news radio, columnists etc…)  And yes, that includes online as well as traditional media folks.

2. Government Officials: the last thing we need is a fake politician online, right?  ;-)

3. Celebrities and others in the public eye should be verified so folks know that they are talking to the ‘real deal’.

So here is where things get a little sticky. While the term public eye is a fairly broad statement I think the focus needs to be on the word ‘public’ (i.e. those that are recognized and known to be influencers to the public) so friends of public types, including spouses, assistants, employees, etc… should not be be verified, imho.

Does Joe Blogger who has 2000 followers of his blog need to be verified?  No.  I don’t believe he does.  He can certainly verify himself to his followers by posting a link to his twitter account.  That’s how I used to do it before verification; I had a link on my website.

Just to segue for a moment, even that link didn’t matter to Twitter who, at one point, shut down my account.  My webguy frantically searched for a way to contact Twitter in those early days.  He managed to contact a woman who was obviously on some kind of Twitter power trip - she demanded to be faxed a unredacted copy of my drivers license.

To digress for a moment even further (this is a segue to a segue - get use to it with me), the drivers license request (unredacted or not) is one of those broken record requests that seem to happen in social media on a pretty regular basis. Note to Social Media Companies; I’m not going to give you a copy of my drivers license, my passport or even my AARP card (once I’m old enough to apply for one.) Why should a company have my private information including my home address and my age to “prove” it’s me?  Do they know where I live and they are comparing it?

When I refused her reply back to my guy was that she was the “gatekeeper” and unless I sent it in I was not getting my account back.

Gauntlet thrown.  

Shatner has accepted the challenge.

My response back to her was that I was doing a national interview in a couple hours and that I would be talking to the Press about how some ‘gatekeeper’ at Twitter was demanding a copy of my drivers license or else I would no longer have access to tweet.

The Powers that be at Twitter replied back with an apology and my account was turned on 30 mins before my interview.

So now that you are in awe of my heroic efforts against the social meanies found in Social Media companies let’s segue on back to verification.

For those that do not have a verified account - they are differences in verified accounts.  One big difference is found in the Mentions area on Twitter.  There is a special view to see tweets made to you from other verified accounts.  I use this to keep up with folks that I follow, spar with, and generally interact with.

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So this helps me segue into the Engadget stupidity that occurred on Twitter.

Let me set the scene.  One lovely June Saturday I loged onto to Twitter and go to my verified view seeing if my dear friend Carrie Fisher had tweeted something lovely to me. 

Instead I find this tweet:

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BTW, I’ve redacted ;-) his info and the other two recipients (one was a hotel.) So I looked at his account - it was a verified account and he’s listed his occupation as the Social Media Manager of Engadget.

Social Media Managers can get verified???!!

I had never communicated with this person before yet here he was boasting that his next goal was to beat me in followers.

So I tweeted back to him:

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And that started the storm of words that somehow translated in some press stories that William Shatner didn’t want ANYONE verified! 

I know what it takes to get someone verified. I argue about verification with the @Verified Twitter account constantly to see if I can vouch for verification.  Friends of mine, who deserve verification still have yet to be verified.  Walter Koenig who was on Star Trek with me STILL isn’t verified, Robert Picardo from Voyager, even that Bastion of ‘truth in news’ the National Enquirer is not verified!

Yet here we have a VERY IMPORTANT person with the job of Social Media Manager for Engadget who has a verified account.  If someone were to impersonate him would anything be compromised?  Would public safety be put at risk? 

I even heard from Mr Social Media Manager’s boss, Mr. Editor in Chief of Engadget who in his  reply to me on Twitter stated that his employees get verified because they are “excellent” at their jobs:

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Now here’s a classic example of someone who really doesn’t know what the ‘rules’ are for Twitter verification yet he’s the BIG SHOT guy of a major social media organization!

Need I even say more about the abuse of Verification beyond this tweet?

I don’t think I have to but I shall! :-)

So in checking out other verified accounts belonging to Engadget folks I came across this one on Twitter

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A verified account of an ex-Engadget employee who was now a full time student.  I was intrigued as to why someone who had an important enough job to get verified had gone back to school for.

So I went to see what this gentleman did for Engadget.  And I found their LinkedIn page which explained what he did for Engadget:

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So that’s the job description of what it takes to be verified!

Are you taking notes?

Write a Round up and get verified! 

It sounds like a job that really requires verification as the public could be fooled should someone create a fake Editorial Assistant account on Twitter and really run amok with misinforming the public.

Don’t you agree?

What this shows is that whomever is telling Twitter to verify accounts for Engadget is abusing the system.  And it’s probably very easy to abuse it in the corporate world of Engadget because even their Editor in Chief doesn’t understand what accounts need to be verified and what accounts do not. 

He views it as a reward for an employee doing a good job!  Good job Round Up writer!  Here’s your blue check mark!

BTW, the Editor In Chief’s tweets to me have all been deleted at this point.  I  assume the reason is that someone finally mentioned to him what Twitter requires for Verified accounts and being a supposed ‘mover and shaker’ in the social media world; Mr. Editor in Chief probably didn’t want to be the subject of ridicule at the next movers and shakers quarterly meeting..

So whose job is it to police verified accounts?  Does Twitter need to police it?  Should corporates also police it?

Twitter doesn’t want to be in the business of verifying that’s clear from their impersonation form that even if you go through the bother of proving a government issued ID that they will NOT verify your account:

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I think that Twitter needs to come back to the corporate world with a more stringent set of rules and figure a way to enforce those policies

It’s clear that there is abuse of verified status but the other side of the coin argument is that Twitter’s policies allow folks to abuse the system.

Also once verified; should accounts be unverified if the person’s status changes?  Who polices that?

What are your thoughts?  Should Twitter police their accounts or should others also be responsible?

So now are you clear on my issues?  Does it sound like I don’t want anyone verified?  Well unless you are an ‘editorial assistant’… :-)

I know what you are saying… it’s old news Shatner!  Engadget has moved on and forgotten about you.

REALLY?!!  You think?

Well Engadget reviewed my blog from last week on Facebook Mentions:

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Check out what they photo shopped into my hand.  A cell phone with a big blue and white verified Twitter check mark!

Geeks never forget.  And I’m one of the oldest geeks there is.

Engadget, you want a piece of this?  Bring it on!!! ;-)

My best, Bill

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    See, the difference here is that this man is contributing a valuable and important service to society. He leads...
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    William Shatner is a dumbass Elitist that believes that somebody who works with a media site cannot be verified. Twitter...
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    I love it when Bill gets angry at stupid people. It’s a joy to read.