Can Twitter Be Trusted?

There are many benefits to having an active social media account when promoting your franchise, such as the ability to easily interact with your customers, advertise new products and maintain your brand's online presence. However, when things go wrong with the platform, is it right to keep going, or should you quit and run?



Twitter has attracted significant negative press over the last few months, and recent developments [1] have left many businesses considering whether the platform can still be trusted.

The major issues surrounding the Twitter platform relate to the ease with which misinformation can be spread due to the inconsistency applied to verifying accounts, meaning that impersonators can easily spread false news about a business or its products from an account that appears to genuinely belong to the business in question.

This has not been helped by Twitter's knee-jerk reaction to these issues, leading to the suspension of many fake accounts but raising the possibility that real ones could equally easily be dispersed at will.



The changes on the platform have happened so quickly and without consultation that it raises a valid concern about the security of business' brands as impersonators can buy a verified blue check for a modest fee and quickly begin spreading misinformation, as happened to Eli Lilly and Co, a drug manufacturer, who were forced to issue an apology after a fake account on Twitter spread the news that they were distributing insulin free of charge.

It has also been reported that there is a chance that Twitter could be headed toward bankruptcy. If this were to happen, it is unclear what would happen to the existing business accounts hosted on the platform, but it is reasonable to assume that they would disappear, along with the platform itself, and potentially without notice.



Canadian users of the platform have been receiving error messages stating that the blue check will no longer be available in the country, and without this means of identifying genuine brand accounts, it will likely be more difficult for brands to fully protect their communications on this platform. Therefore, it is possible that many franchisees who currently use Twitter as a means of communicating with their customers may choose to remove their account at this point and focus solely on a different, more secure platform instead.

Clearly, a decision of this magnitude has to be made in conjunction with your franchisor to ensure that they are comfortable that the brand message will be maintained and know which verified accounts belong to you on the platforms that you are using so fake accounts can be identified, flagged and removed at the earliest opportunity, mitigating potential PR disasters.

While this particular issue relates solely to Twitter, it serves as a useful reminder to be mindful of data security and the need to protect against misinformation whenever you place business information in the public domain.