The rise of ghost-tweeting: the tweets you read, may be written by someone else

The NY Times reports that celebrities on Twitter are hiring ghost-writers to post tweets. It's the rise of "ghost Twitterers" -- hiring someone to feed tweets to your throngs of admiring followers. Does this contradict the essential conceit of Twitter, the promise of online intimacy, of "staying in touch?" You bet. From the story, by Noam Cohen: "Because Twitter is seen as an intimate link between celebrities and their fans, many performers are not willing to divulge the help they use to put their thoughts [sic] into cyberspace." Among those using someone, or several someones, to keep their "Web presence" uptodate are: Britney Spears, Kanye West, Ron Paul, and the Online One himself, the President of the United States. media consultant Guy Kawasaki, who has more than 80,000 followers, and "who is full of praise for the two employees who enliven his Twitter feed, often posting updates while he is on stage addressing a conference." No one would ever have guessed that Twitter would let you defy the Laws of Physics. Sports figures, perhaps accustomed to self-discipline, seem to eschew help. According to Cohen, basketball star Schaquille O'Neal is a demon for tweeting, and Lance Armstrong tweeted left-handed just hours after breaking his right collarbone. Ghostwriting per se isn't new, as Cohen notes. "The famous, of course, have turned to ghostwriters for autobiographies and other acts of self-aggrandizement. But the idea of having someone else write continual updates of one’s daily life seems slightly absurd." Slightly. But Cohen quotes Joesph Nejman, a former consultant to Britney to help her create a Web strategy, who accuses critics of being hypocrites. “It’s O.K. to tweet for a brand,” he said, remarking how common it is for companies to have Twitter accounts, “but not O.K. for a celebrity. But the truth is, they are a brand. What they are to the public is not always what they are behind the curtain. If the manager knows that better than the star, then they should do it.” After all, Guy How-to-Change-the-World Kawasaki wouldn't want to be mistaken for, you know, a brand that makes wheel loaders, gas turbine systems and motorcycles.


Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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