Twitter tackles impersonators

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Twitter tackles impersonators

Twitter unveiled plans Saturday to tackle on-site impersonators, a problem that is increasing as the microblogging site grows in popularity.

Businesses and individuals that have delayed registering their brand name on Twitter have suffered reputation losses from cyber squatters who pinch IDs and tweet misleading posts.

The latest target was US baseball manager, Tony La Russa of the St. Louis Cardinals, who filed a lawsuit to the Superior Court of California, claiming damages as a result of a fake Twitter account.

A profile with his name on it had featured "derogatory and demeaning" statements that tarnished his reputation and caused him personal distress, he said.

Twitter has said to prevent similar disasters it will experiment with a beta version of what it calls Verified Accounts this summer on a "small set" of users.

Official accounts will carry a tick symbol.

"Please note that this doesn't mean accounts without a verification seal are fake - the vast majority of Twitter accounts are not impersonators," said the company's co-founder Biz Stone in a blog post, also advising Twitter users to check contacts' authenticity by visiting the official web site of a person for a link back to their Twitter account.

"The experiment will begin with public officials, public agencies, famous artists, athletes, and other well know individuals at risk of impersonation," explained Stone.

Twitter struggles to take on new projects because it lacks a revenue model, and Stone mentioned the lack of resources as the reason why the offering had to be limited to just some customers, and why the service was not business ready.

But Stone expressed hope to verify more and more accounts in the future.

In the same blog post, Stone denied Friday reports that suggested La Russa and Twitter had reached a settlement and that Twitter would pay La Russa legal fees and make a donation to his Animal Rescue Foundation.

According to a report in the Associated Press, La Russa said, "There is a law against improperly using a person's name without authorization and it wasn't authorised," adding, "You can't sue everybody for criticising you, but it seemed like that was the perception. It was improper use of the name, but it's been settled."

However Stone denies this is the case and said the reports are "erroneous"

"Twitter has not settled, nor do we plan to settle or pay," said Stone. "With due respect to the man and his notable work, Mr. La Russa's lawsuit was an unnecessary waste of judicial resources bordering on frivolous."

Stone said the impersonation complaint had been taken care of by Twitter's support staff in a satisfactory way, complying with Twitter's Terms of Service.

"We suspend, delete, or transfer control of accounts known to be impersonation. When alerted, we took action in this regard on behalf of St. Louis Cardinals manager," Stone continued. "Twitter's Terms of Service are fair and we believe will be upheld in court that will ultimately dismiss Mr. La Russa's lawsuit," he added.

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