With great power comes great responsibility

May 22nd, 2009

Recently twitter deactivated accounts of Kanye West imposters. Whether this is alright or not is a tricky question. Is impersonation ok if it is satirical? Clearly yes, but usually the impersonation is transparent. But where to draw the line?

If someone impersonated you, should Twitter deactivate the impostor? If you think this is the case, then do you think it’s feasible/scalable for Twitter to do so? If not, then should they react differently to impostor deactivation requests from a public persona than from a regular user?

You can easily argue that services like Twitter are becoming increasingly integral to our socio-cultural fabric. As government simply can’t keep pace with innovation, we can’t count on traditional regulatory bodies to ensure balance - so what do we do? Simply trust their word, “don’t be evil?”

Similar examples abound - like Facebook founder’s sister flaunting the idea of removing the public page of a club she disagreed with.

3 Responses to “With great power comes great responsibility”

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  2. David Jarvis Says:

    There was an interesting case where a guy impersonated Sarah Palin on Facebook for several months - maybe even a year - before Sarah’s friends found out about it and had the page shut down through Facebook. While he aimed to be satirical, the views expressed were often so extreme that people who were radical followers of Palin actually accepted them as more legitimate.

    The lesson here is: when dealing with crazy people, you can never be too obvious as to whether or not you’re creating satire.

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