Which of the above Twitter accounts belongs to South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney? None of them. Not even this next one, which has more than 51,000 followers. (Update as of 1/23/13: The account below has been suspended by Twitter.)
Unlike Facebook, Twitter allows users to create parody accounts that often poke fun of celebrities or the latest trends. These accounts can be hilarious but they can also make it difficult to know who’s real or not (full disclosure: I even got the Clowney accounts confused while writing this). Here’s what to look for:
- A verified account mark. Most celebrities have one. Twitter only gives these out when a celebrity account has been independently verified. Caution: The marks can be faked, even though Twitter forbids it, and some well-known people – such as college sports stars – may not have one.
- The username: Twitter forbids parody accounts from using the same username of the person it’s spoofing, unless it says “fake” or “not”, etc.
- The bio: Parody accounts are required to include a statement in the bio that identifies itself as a fake or parody account so as not to intentionally deceive people. Caution: Not all of them do, including the Clowny account above (as of this publication).
That might lead to a lot of followers, but intentionally deceptive accounts may be suspended by Twitter.
The trick to not getting tricked is to remain skeptical when using Twitter and Facebook. Just because it has someone’s name on it doesn’t mean it’s them.