By Yinka Adegoke
Jan 3 (Reuters) - Twitter, the popular microblogging
site, apologized on Tuesday for incorrectly verifying a false
account for Wendi Deng, the wife of News Corp Chief Executive
The fake account with the handle @Wendi_Deng popped up on
Sunday soon after a real Twitter account was started by the
media mogul on New Year's eve. News Corp communications staff
confirmed that the Murdoch account was genuine. Like Murdoch's
own Twitter account, the Wendi account was initially verified by
Twitter, featuring the well-known blue tick which shows Twitter
has confirmed the account belongs to the named person.
But by early Tuesday New York time, Twitter was forced to
remove its famous blue tick from the Wendi account after it said
it confirmed the account did not belong to her.
"We can confirm that the @wendi_deng account was mistakenly
verified for a short period of time and apologize for the
confusion this caused," Twitter said in a statement.
Twitter spokesman Matt Graves declined to comment on the
matter beyond the earlier statement to explain how the error was
Twitter, which allows anyone to create an account under any
name for free, uses the blue tick verification to help its users
to differentiate real accounts of well-known personalities from
parody pages made by other users.
The @Wendi_Deng profile, seen by Reuters on Monday, said she
was joining her husband on an "adventure" on Twitter and began
tweeting regularly about Murdoch and with public messages to
celebrities like Piers Morgan and British entrepreneur Alan
Within 48 hours of opening the page and getting the Twitter
stamp of approval, the @Wendi_Deng account - registered under
the name Wendi Deng Murdoch - had racked up more than 10,000
followers eager for some insight into Murdoch's personal life as
well as his business life. Murdoch himself had amassed nearly
95,000 followers at the time of publication.
The fake account verification by Twitter was compounded by a
public relations executive at News Corp's London-based News
International mistakenly confirming the @Wendi_Deng account as
real to reporters.
UK paper The Guardian had to issue a correction after it
published a story with the headline: "Wendi Deng flirts with
Ricky Gervais after joining husband on Twitter."
The issue raises questions about Twitter's account
verification process. It has nearly 17,000 verified accounts.
The person behind the 'Wendi' page, who has yet to reveal
his or her identity in response to inquiries, was critical of
Twitter's decision to verify the account without proper checks.
"And you have to wonder even more why Twitter verified this
account for a full day. I never received any communication from
them about this," the person tweeted.
Twitter has a private verification process for celebrities
and other famous people who ask to be verified or complain about
parody pages. The site has more than 100 million active accounts
and 250 million tweets a day.
Even without the confusion around whether his wife was on
Twitter, Murdoch has lit up the blogosphere with his early
opinionated tweets being widely covered by both blogs and the
mainstream media. His tweets included a near endorsement of
Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, praise for
President Barack Obama and criticism of the Steve Jobs
Murdoch has had a shaky history with the Internet in general
and social media in particular. He famously paid $580 million
for MySpace in 2005 and sold it for $35 million last year after
losing out to Facebook.
Saudi Prince Al Waleed bin Talal last month took a 3 percent
stake in Twitter for $300 million, valuing the company at some
$8 billion. The prince holds 7 percent of News Corp B shares,
the second largest voting stake after Murdoch.
(Reporting By Yinka Adegoke)
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