It looks the the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition has had their Twitter account suspended. While there could be a number of different reasons, it is likely because someone in the organization faked a “verified account” designation. This is highly likely, given that a Twitter user flagged the issue the day before the account was suspended.
Full disclosure: we know the folks who run the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition (TTC) and we like them. But there’s no way around it – this was not a smart move. It may seem obvious now, but I’d like to use this as an opportunity to explain to our readers why this tactic was a recipe for disaster right from the get go. I also hope it will serve as a warning to others.
With a real verified badge on a real verified account on Twitter, when you hover your cursor over it, it says “Verified Profile”. That’s because the verified badge is part of the Twitter infrastructure, not the background header image. So it is super simple to determine if it is being faked.
In the politicized world of Toronto City Hall, there are many who do not like the Coalition and have often questioned their legitimacy. That immediately means they have to play it cleaner than the next guy if they want to remain legitimate. In the political online space, there is always an audience. There is always someone, even if it is just a few, who would be happy to delight in your downfall. This is/was especially true of the Coalition and its leadership.
The fact of the matter is that those who are politically inclined – especially those on the progressive side – are often quite agile in the online space. They know where to look and they know how to expose their opponents. You must understand and respect that reality when operating in such an environment. In this case, all it took was one submission to Twitter to remove the Coalition (at least temporarily) from the Twitter conversation.
I think the biggest concern I have with the whole situation is that there is really no upside to the tactic whatsoever. It doesn’t get you any further ahead in the Twitterverse, as you don’t accrue any of the possible benefits of a verified account. But you do take on all of the risk of being something you’re not, with a 100% chance you will eventually be called out for it.
Now, opponents of the Coalition are delighting in the fact that the Coalition has been suspended on Twitter. More importantly, the organization has deprived themselves of a useful and important communications channel to engage the public – possibly permanently, based on Twitter’s rules.
The Coalition learned a hard lesson; I hope you’ve learned something as well.