Saturday, April 18, 2009

You Can't Sell Your Twitter Account. Unless CNN is Buying.

Call me stupid but if a person starts a Twitter account called "CNN Breaking News" and populates it with CNN headlines, doesn't that count as "using feeds of third-party content to update and maintain accounts under the names of those third parties"? And, if it does, how is the whole thing with CNN's million-follower contest not count as a huge case of Twitter "squatting"?

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, let me back it up. I'm quite sure you've heard about the recent Oprah/Ashton Kutcher/CNN Twitter triumverate. If not, lucky you--I just blogged about it.

Bottom line? In January of 2007, a web developer in London started a Twitter account, cnnbrk. Populates it with what looks to all the world like a feed of CNN's breaking news. Accumulates hundreds of thousands of followers. Ashton Kutcher challenges CNN: if I get to 1 million followers before you do, I'll ding-dong-ditch Ted Turner. Well, that's easy, says CNN--we'll just purchase the existing cnnbrk account with its 900,000+ followers.

But not so fast. Name squatting--selling user names--is forbidden by Twitter. CNN maintains they didn't break this rule because they didn't purchase the cnnbrk account; they "acquired" it. As in hired the guy who owned it as a consultant--oh, and as part of the deal you give us your Twitter account.

So, back to my original question: what's up with this? Turns out Twitter, with all its nonchalance about money, apparently doesn't have the balls to "permanently suspend" an account as high-profiled as CNN's.

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