Update Tuesday 15th March
An interview with @girlgeeks with the full story is available here: How-safe-is-your-Twitter-name/
Update Sunday 13th March
I believe this matter has now been resolved and the girlgeeks name will go back to the original owner. Thanks for all the support.
So you think you own your twitter name ?
Chances are you don’t, chances are you could have it taken away from you at any moment or have it changed by twitter adding an underscore to it. So what does it matter, it’s only a twiter account after all. Wrong, your twitter account can be your main online presence, your main identity that people know you by and your main contact.
Suppose you’ve spent 2 years building an international reputation, have thousands of follower, some of own are leaders in their fields, some of who are close friends. Overnight their contact books are out of date, overnight their DM messages no longer go to you but some third party, overnight any archived Follow Friday tags #FF are out of date, overnight your on line reputation has gone. And worse, think how many resources you will need to update, business cards, linkedin, Skype and thats not to mention your presence in search engines. Can’t happen here ? It can and it has.
It happened to a close friend of mine last night. She spent over two years building the @girlgeeks account, spreading words of Girl Geek Scotland to over 26 countries. Last night an organsation called @GIRLGEEKS contacted Twitter to say they had registered trademark for Girl Geeks and wanted the @girlgeeks account for themselves. This organisation only stated a couple of months ago and yet compared to the prior reputation of @girlgeeks this meant nothing, Twitter took the account and handed it to them on a plate. To make matters worse, twitter sent message to the original owner to say they where going to change their twitter name, there was no chance to respond, to argue or to appeal. They just change your name and then tell you afterwards. Oh, and they ask you to make it clear on your that your account is not associated with the brand.
As the previous owner of @girlgeeks says:
“The message from Twitter is get an International TM for your name or they'll take it for a private ltd company”.
Just to make the effect clear, here's what happes if you do a search for girlgeeks on google:
Clearly pointing to the old account, we'd expect to see the good work girlgeeks has been doing. if we click on we get:
Not what expected and very damaging to the original owner to the original owner of the twitter account.
This is clear case of #copywrong, its heavy handed and I suspect that Twitter have no clear idea of the damage they have done. The message is clear, you don’t own your twitter account, Twitter does.
There is an official responce from the other side here PDF