Peter Kafka

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Twitter’s Identity Problem Lands It in Court

maskOn the Internet, as the joke goes, nobody knows you’re a dog. And on Twitter, nobody knows if you’re a “real” celebrity who’s decided to start using the service, or an impostor.

That could turn out to be a business opportunity for the Twitter guys, who have talked about selling corporate clients a “verified account” say a Dunkin Donuts could prove to Twitter followers that they are indeed Dunkin Donuts and not somebody else.

And it’s also a problem that has finally manifested itself in a lawsuit: St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa has sued the site for allowing a meanspirited impersonator to claim his name. The suit, which I’ve embedded below, is fairly straightforward: LaRussa his trademark rights have been damaged and that he’s “suffered damage to his reputation, and damage to the goodwill of his mark.”

The only question I have is whether LaRussa or his people asked Twitter to take down the account before filing the suit in a San Francisco court last month. This report says that’s the case, but there’s no mention of that in the complaint.

I’ve asked Twitter for comment, and will update if I get one. It will be interesting to see how they handle this one: In theory,  the company should have been  ok with the fake LaRussa, because its terms of service allows for parody accounts, and this one was labeled as such.

Then again, its hard to see the company going to bat for someone who makes drunk driving jokes about former Cardinals pitcher  Josh Hancock, who died when he drove into a truck a couple of years ago. Here, via LaRussa’s complaint, is a copy of a screenshot of the page:


tony larussa twitter – Get more Business Documents

[Image credit: cupcakes2]