A recent article on the Globe & Mail website mentioned that Peter Milliken – Member of Parliament for Kingston & the Islands and Speaker of the House of Commons – has a Twitter account.
That was probably news to Peter Milliken.
The author wrote: “Liberal MPs are the most active tweeters on the Hill – 37 Liberals use Twitter, compared to 19 Conservatives, 22 NDP MPs and four Bloc MPs.
As well, there are 17 MPs, including Speaker Peter Milliken, NDP MPs Charlie Angus and Joe Comartin and Treasury Board President Stockwell Day, who have Twitter accounts they haven’t used.”
However that isn’t exactly true…
For a number of years I maintained Mr. Milliken’s Constituency website and early on casually wondered why the site was using a .org domain (PeterMilliken.org) instead of the more commonly known .com extension.
A quick check revealed that a possible ‘domain squatter’ had already purchased PeterMilliken.com without actually creating a website for it. The owner either planned to set up a site sometime in the future or – I suspect more likely – was hoping to sell the domain name for a profit…
So I continued to periodically check the domain’s status until noticing that person had allowed his registration to expire, at which point I purchased it for myself.
Since then I’ve donated the website to Peter Milliken’s campaign during the past few elections, and more recently have been updating the site with periodic references I’ve noticed about him in the media.
And with that original domain squatter incident in the back of my mind, a few months ago I decided to register a Twitter account in Peter Milliken’s name to ensure someone else didn’t register it before he had the chance.
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My intent was to offer it to Milliken’s campaign in the next election – since Twitter is a popular method of communication by many politicians, as that original report expressed – and simply let the account sit dormant while waiting for that next election to roll around.
Of course immediately after reading that Globe & Mail report, I quickly made a call to his office in case they’d also seen the article and were scratching their heads over what it meant.
And although the article got the part about Peter Milliken wrong (in a sense), it’s difficult to blame the writer for the inaccuracy…
Because most politicians haven’t “verified” their account with Twitter – which indicates the account has been confirmed authentic by Twitter, instead of being an imposter who simply managed to register a politician’s (or celebrity’s) name first.
All officially confirmed Twitter profiles have a blue check-mark and the words “verified account” at the top right of their page. The Twitter account for Peter Milliken does not (yet) feature that addition, but then again neither do other apparently legitimate profiles being used by Canadian politicians also mentioned in the report.
That fact makes it difficult for the original researchers to know if the profile they are looking at is the real deal – particularly if there aren’t any posts on the account to analyse.
Therefore, as it relates to whether someone on Twitter is really who they say they are: Tweet but verify.