Are the tweets from celebrities genuine? Are they twittering or do they have assistants doing that?
—Dr. Joshua, via Twitter
Hey, let's make this a quiz. Because this is entertainment journalism, that’s why, and if it’s not in countdown form, it needs to be a quiz. Here are some names: Hayden Panettiere, Leonard Nimoy, Greg Grunberg, Shaq, Henry Rollins, Britney Spears, Tina Fey, Demi and Ashton, and the latest Dr. Who, David Tennant.
Some of those people really twitter, some do not but have impostors who would have you believe otherwise, and still others fall somewhere in between.
Take your best guesses and keep reading. (Here's a hint: If you don't know by now that Heroes' Grunberg really twitters, and a lot, you are a corpse. Now, seriously, continue.)
Demi and Ashton of course twitter on their own. Even a publicist with a brainpan the size of a walnut wouldn't let Ashton twitter stuff like, "I really want to go to Iran. Every one that I meet that goes there says it's amazing."
Shaq: Real. Ditto with DJ Jazzy Jeff.
But that Tina Fey Twitter page talking about Caramello lunches? Not real. At all. Total impostor.
Ditto, I am told, with recent twitter attempts by Henry Rollins, Hayden Panettiere, David Tennant and Leonard Nimoy. (William Shatner, however—real.)
If you really want to keep track of fake twitterers, there's Steven Livingstone, who operates Valebrity.com. The site reaches out directly to celebrity agents and managers to verify the officialdom of a Twitter account.
As for Britney, she's the one who falls somewhere in between. She has a team who twitters on her behalf, I'm told by a source close to the operation. Even if the tweets are signed by her, they're funneled through a social media expert first.
There's no foolproof way to ensure that a Twitter account is real without checking with a celebrity's minions. But in general, says Lori Dicker of the social media consultancy Karma Media Labs, go with the photos.
"Check Twitpic and see what kinds of photos they're uploading," she says. "Real celebrities don't upload stuff that anyone can get off the street."
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