“On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog,” goes the classic New Yorker cartoon.
Or a spammer.
Brandjacking is a growing problem online. On Twitter, both Motrin and Exxon-Mobil have had unknown individuals posing as themselves. And now, one of my favorite thought leaders in social media, Jeremiah Owyang, has been brandjacked. (Twitter has the problem under control).
This will continue because it’s easy, there’s no real penalty if you get caught, and there are lots of jerks out there, running lots of hustles.
So here’s a modest proposal: charge for the service. Like $1 a year. A buck. Seriously.
It forces each user to provide a real name and real address, which is verified when the charge is run through the credit card companies. That alone would knock down the Twitter spam, which frequently comes from one individual using multiple accounts. A credit card also ensures the holder of the account is of a certain age. When the account renews yearly, it gives people a chance to get off the service. It would give Twitter a much richer database once the service is monetized.
A buck is just a speed bump, enough to slow down the spammers and liars, minimally disrupting legitimate users. It’s a small lever that Twitter can use to protect its network.
And what would Twitter do with the money? It could make a modest donation to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or some other cause that improves the online experience.