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NY Times: Twitter is haunted

The New York Times just discovered that there are ghost tweeters on Twitter. That was common knowledge in the Twitterverse, of course; part of the fun is figuring out whether a celebrity persona on the system is a spoof, a ghost, or the real thing. Spoofs already made news via Shaquille O’Neals decision to tweet as “The Real Shaq” after he learned there was a spoof account, and the more recent outing of a fake Dalai Lama. We all suspected other celebrities were using ghost tweeters, and some have been pretty transparent, like Britney Spears, who shares her account with others on her staff – they’ve been identifying who’s posting in the posted tweets.

I’m realizing how weird this all must sound to those of you who haven’t drunk the Twitter Kool-Aid quite yet. It’s really pretty irrelevant to the experience current adopters are having – scads are following these celebrities, but I suspect they’re getting a tiny slice of the overall commitment of attention.

The Times article outs Guy Kawasaki, who currently has over 94,000 followers, as “an unabashed user of ghost Twitterers.” He is “is full of praise for the two employees who enliven his Twitter feed, often posting updates while he is on stage addressing a conference.” In response, Kawasaki told publisher Tim O’Reilly (via Twitter) “2 people supplement my posts. They only do links to cool stuff. I do all responses.”

The “ghosts” raise the question of authenticity, but where celebrities are concerned, has that ever really been an issue? The cool thing about Twitter is that it can accommodate bogus PR posturing and completely authentic personal sharing, all in the same virtual “room.” Put your attention where it does you the most good – and if you’re getting useful intelligence from Kawasaki’s feed, you probably don’t care whether it’s him or his ghost that’s posting.

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