Firstly, I would like to commend you on a first rate micro-blogging platform and assure you I am very pleased with the service as a means to voice my opinions, and also a means to see others’ opinions and breaking news before mainstream media picks up the thread. Excellent stuff! However, I feel I must now write this open letter in good faith that you will at least look into addressing an ongoing issue that I have approached your support team in private about, but for which no solution has been forthcoming to date.
As you are fully aware, I have been using Twitter as my primary means of communication since day one of my conception over 3 years ago. In this time I have somehow gained nearly 50,000 followers, mostly made up of good actors, but the bad guys like to follow too just to keep abreast of goings on. I have spoken to your support team on numerous occasions with a request to be ‘Verified by Twitter’ and given the reasons I shall outline below. I feel that once you understand my reasoning for this modest request, and have facts available, you may be able to make a sounder judgement call on the matter.
I get an awful lot of imposters, who create twitter accounts with names very similar to my handle, who then copy my bio, background, profile picture etc trying to pass themselves off as me. Here’s a small selection for your perusal:
@th3i3St3r @th3j35t3r_, @_th3j35t3r , @th3j35t3r_Troll, @_th3j35t3r_ , @th3j35t3rddos, @th3j35t3rsArmy, @Mrs_th3j35t3r, @th3j35t3r1, @th3j35t3r9, @th3j35t3r7, @TheJester9, @th3j35t3r6, @th3j35t3r5, @th3j35t3r2, @th3j35t3r4,
…to name but a few.
Now obviously this is not good for me as these fake accounts, and it happens all the time, try to make statements as if they are me and engage in all manner of assholery in pathetic attempts to undermine my work, or make me look less than intelligent. Yes that’s annoying and when a new one gets on my radar it usually takes me less a minute to debunk him. No biggy right? Wrong.
It came to my attention today that a Professor who shall remain unidentified for now, at a University, that shall also remain unidentified for now, who teaches Cyber warfare courses, has tasked his students with what is arguably the dumbest hood-ass assignment ever. The assignment is for his students to create fake ‘jester’ personas online and convince as many people as they can that they are actually me.
Apparently there is an ‘easy A’ up for grabs too. He definitely hasn’t thought this through.
It’s all fun and games until somebody actually gets that ‘A’ and the wrong people believe they are me and then some busted up hippy-van loaded with angry Libyans gets all up in their shit with automatic weapons. Does nobody remember how mortifying it was when Doc got slotted in Back to The Future? Now I don’t know about you Twitter, but I sure as fuck don’t possess a time-machine and in all seriousness, there’s a more sinister side to being me. These are students who are likely ‘less equipped’ shall we say, to fend off the type off targeted attacks I deal with daily.
As I mentioned at the top of this letter, I have garnered considerable support over the years, but with that also comes considerable numbers of enemies, some are plain whack-jobs like John Tiessen and Anonymous and therefore not all that scary at all. But you don’t get to consistently annoy real terrorists for three years, exposing them, and knocking their websites and forums off the web without them wanting to come at you. All they need is a fix on my position so to speak. I know what you’re thinking I’m over-reacting right? Well, not really when you consider some Islamic Terrorist Organization’s have started placing bounties on counter-jihad website administrators.
Make no mistake it’s a serious business. Among the more delightful events in my 3 years operating, I have received everything from minor trolls up to and including multiple death threats from whacked out US citizens, a couple of fatwahs from foreign terror organization ‘representatives’ and many failed attempts at ‘doxing’ me have occurred at the hands of Anonymous. I can live with this and do, it’s part of the game, but these imposters may not realize what they are signing up for.
The way I see it, we both have a duty of care to minimize the risk to these imposters, both you and I Twitter. Whether their intentions are good or bad, they are putting themselves in harms way. We can take this simple step together and easily ensure none of them are ever taken seriously. I have requested for my account to be ‘Verified by Twitter’ numerous times, and you have denied the request because and I quote: I’m not a real ‘person or business entity’ and I won’t give up my actual identity. Incidentally, this is also the reason why any complaints I lodge regarding trolls get disregarded too. It’s disappointing when as a Twitter user I am, (like any other), both a consumer AND content provider but can’t seem to get support on anything because, for obvious reasons I wish to remain incognito.
That’s a bit irresponsible given the potential risk not doing so puts other (albeit dumb) Twitter users in. It can all be fixed and avoided by simply:
‘Verifying’ the persona, not the person.
I notice that these accounts ARE IN FACT ‘VERIFIED’ and can’t help but wonder to myself, how can this be when you deny the same to me?
@spongebob -who lives in a freakin pineapple under the sea and isn’t even a real sponge.
@RealCapnCrunch – who is a goddam breakfast cereal, and I am almost certain is not a real Captain.
@DocPemberton – He’s been DEAD 124 years, no really he has.
@NBABackboardCam – Really? Not even a person – an inanimate object.
Your argument is they are known brands. Well it appears to some extent I am too, given the amount of fakers out there, no? A ‘brand’ I have built tirelessly over a long period of time, sometimes at great personal risk.
As a supporting sidenote, I’d like to draw your attention to the fact that The International Spy Museum in Washington DC has just accepted my Alienware laptop, and will be exhibiting it for the next FIVE years. That’s not bad going for a person that’s ‘not real’ – More here.
Let’s end the ability of the stupid to walk into fires they can’t handle and ‘verify’ the persona, not the person.
Final thoughts: When somebody does get hurt, because they were mistakenly identified as me, it’s now on public record that I requested verification, and have been denied it numerous times. With great power comes great responsibility Twitter, you have the power to unfuck this situation. Two words: ‘foreseeable consequence’.
I hope this letter finds you in good health, and is received in the spirit with which it was penned. This letter is not meant to cause you problems or force precedence, I’m simply asking for a solution, to an ongoing issue.
Thank you for your time.
Mr The Jester