Celebs short on time (or lacking in interest) are seemingly sparking a trend of ghost-written tweets. More and more stars are hiring “ghost Twitterers” to maintain their Twitter accounts, The New York Times reports, and write all of their updates. Is it just me, or does the notion kind of give you the shivers?
The ‘Ghost Twitterer’
The Times has an interesting feature today that goes into several specifics. 50 Cent, for example, has personal messages that any fan would assume came straight from his fingers. One of his assistants, however, does all the work, telling The Times 50 Cent “doesn’t actually use Twitter, but the energy of it is all him.” Kanye West also hired some assistants to handle his online updates, the story says, and politicians — Barack Obama included — have “social networking teams” that manage their tweets and other online activity.
Even some “new media consultants” — you know, those people on Twitter with tens of thousands of followers who dish out advice on how to use social tools — have “ghost Twitterers” doing all the work.
It’s one thing to hire someone to manage a Web site, or even to write for your blog under their own name to provide supplementary material. When you’re paying someone else to write something as your own words, though, it seems to me a line has been crossed. When Britney Spears openly brought on a team of Twitterers for her account last year, she (or, perhaps more accurately, her publicity team) was at least more open about the process. Many of these famous names aren’t being so up-front about who’s actually behind the keyboard.
In the publishing world, a ghost writer typically works with the figure in question to create the content, and they are credited as such. In Twitter, where messages typically take a familiar and personal tone, this isn’t the case — and what The Times describes strikes me as being rather deceptive, even a bit insulting to fans who follow someone so they can connect with their thoughts.
If people are going to hire others to handle their streams, it’s time for transparency.
You can find me on Twitter, where I never let my office ghost send a single tweet, here.