Twitter has a lot of people posing as someone they are not, a problem that plagues larger social networks MySpace and Facebook. The trend with Twitter is becoming a significant problem for big corporations.
According toThe Wall Street Journal, “Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) has found at least two unauthorized Twitter accounts under variations of its name.” The accounts were not used to create bad PR for Exxon, but as other people take the names of companies and can potentially create false impressions, large businesses may begin to look at Twitter as an enemy, which will not help its chances of making money as a marketing media.
The Twitter fake account issue gets to the heart of why marketers are reluctant to use Facebook, MySpace and other websites in the social media category for advertising their products and services. They cannot tell who visits social networks and who may use their presence to attack or vilify companies. Unlike traditional online media which does not allow a ready way for people to publicly communicate about advertisers and their messages, social networks and the chaos that is a part of the interactions of millions of their members represent a nearly perfect environment for critics to trap an unwitting firm by bombarding it with negative reactions.
The inability of the social networks to readily identify and regulate their members may be what keeps them from being viable businesses. Anonymity and a community with huge pools of visitors create excellent opportunities for people who want to turn public opinion against big businesses.
Douglas A. McIntyre