Afterword

ThimphuTech was the first technology blog in Bhutan. We started writing it in 2009, just as broadband and mobile internet started to take off. (Although internet in Bhutan was launched in 1999, it was either super-slow or super-expensive, and was only used by a selected few).

In the blog, we wrote about technology and food, but also about plenty of other stuff. The blog became popular and influential in Bhutan. A companion bi-weekly column -- Ask Boaz -- was published for many years in the Kuensel, Bhutan's national newspaper. (The complete Kuensel columns are available as an ebook, Blogging with Dragons).

We stopped updating the blog when we left Bhutan in 2014, but the information within the posts can still prove useful, and thus we decided to keep it online.

We thank all our readers.
Tashi Delek,
Boaz & Galit.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fake twitterer? (K2 #44)

Question of the Week 
How can I tell whether a Twitter account is fake or not?
-- Anonymous


Answer
Dear Anonymous,

A year ago in this column (“Tweeting Twitter”, August 8, 2011), in response to a question by an RCSC employee, I wrote a short primer about Twitter in Bhutan. Back then only a handful of Bhutanese were using twitter. Well, things have definitely changed! Twitter in Bhutan has since grown considerably. I estimate that around 3,000 to 4,000 accounts on Twitter belong to Bhutanese, which is about 0.5% of the Bhutanese population. This is still small compared to the number of Facebook users in Bhutan (approximately 70,000), but Twitter does seem to have a growing impact in the country.

Elizabeth Windsor
The British Monarchy
To answer your question, anyone can open an account with any name, so it is quite easy to impersonate someone on Twitter. However, this is against Twitter’s terms of use, and Twitter will delete such accounts upon a complaint. That being said, Twitter does allow to create “parody, commentary, or fan” accounts, provided that the account details (name, description, etc) make it very clear that it is a fake one. (Whether opening a parody account is legal is another matter and depends on the local jurisdiction). Elizabeth Windsor, for example (twitter.com/queen_uk), is a fake account which parodies Queen Elizabeth II. “She” has more than 9 lakh followers! For comparison, the official account of the British Monarchy (twitter.com/BritishMonarchy) has less than 4 lakh followers.

There are two foolproof ways to find out if an account is genuine or not. Some accounts - mostly ones that belong to celebrities, high-ranking officials, and other movers and shakers - are verified by Twitter. You’ll see a blue check mark near the account owner’s name. When you hover your mouse over the check mark, it will display “Verified profile”. For example, if you go the British Monarchy’s Twitter account, you’ll see a blue check mark displayed next to the account name. You can then be assured that the account is indeed genuine.

Since most accounts are not verified by Twitter, the second method involves a bit of a legwork (or rather, fingerwork). If the person has an official website, check if the page has a “Follow me on Twitter” or similar button. This is also a tip for Twitter users who want to assure their audience of their authenticity. For example, MP Sangay Khandu’s official website (www.sangaykhandu.com) has a link to his Twitter account (twitter.com/sangaykhandu). You can therefore rest assured that the Twitter handle @sangaykhandu indeed belongs to MP Sangay Khandu.

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to boaz@thimphutech.com