Stephen Fry, Andy Murray and Jonathan Ross are amongst the growing band of celebrities on Twitter, but how do we know that it is really them and not just a fan of even a member of their celebrity entourage posting, purely for publicity?
There have been a host of examples of fake Twitterers and bloggers. For over a year a blog ran under the moniker “Fake Steve” or FSJ, a fake Steve Jobs blog that in some months attracted almost a million visitors including the real Steve Jobs and apparently the real Bill Gates too.
The business of revealing a celebrity Twitter as a fake in the title is an established phenomenon (at the time of writing the newly reinstated Twitter search facility revealed over 200 of these). The bigger issue is the ease with which anyone can register a name and become a twit imposter.
So how do we tell if the celebrity on Twitter is the real deal? There are some tests that we can apply:
1 The Authentic Voice. Does it feel real? This can be an acid test in itself. Whilst it might be possible to adopt a persona for a few tweets it is very difficult to sustain over time. We should trust our instincts (but not rely on them solely). Whilst some tweets feel like celebrity publicists at work (@BritneySpears admits as much) if you follow @Andy_Murray it doesn’t feel like it could be anyone else.
2. The Official Website. Stephen Fry, who is no slouch when it comes to the social web, fed his Twitter stream to his official web-site. Voila, instant validation, so it’s worth checking.
3. The Fourth Estate. Traditional media channels and established journalists remain vital to news and communications because they set the bar for accuracy and authority (a subject worthy of much further discussion). When I openly asked on Twitter if @wossy was the real Jonathan Ross two journalists pointed me in the direction of established news source confirming it. Check them out.
4. Ask. Put the question on Twitter either directly or to the Twittersphere. It is the social web after all and you might get the confirmation that you need.
The social web of its nature creates margins for doubt and error but if you apply these tests you should fairly quickly be able to separate the glam from the sham.