Some time overnight I was followed by the Twitter account @vanityfairer, d.b.a. “Vanity Fair Wayfarer” (whence the image above right). As a subscriber to the magazine (at least assuming my reup went through) I followed back and clicked on the sidebar link to learn more. Instead of finding the Vanity Fair website or a personal blog, it directed me to a blog post at Web2.0h … Really? titled: VanityFairer: The Magazine’s Social Faux Pas?
About which I first thought, yeah, Vanity Fair should have scooped up the account before this person got to it. But it turns out that’s not what the author meant. Here’s what he did:
Vanityfairer [is] a Twitter “fan” feed by someone who identifies “her”self only as Vanity Fair Wayfarer and whose bio reads only “I heart Vanity Fair magazine.”
“Her” updates are really pretty good-mainly pointers to stuff about, in or related to content from the celebrity-addled, scrumptiously visual, annoyingly literate and therefore-hard-to-ignore glossy. …
It looks to me like the Twitter feed is an undisclosed VF inside job. Vanity Fairer is following a conspicuous list of 51 prominentos from the worlds of technology and media [including Tim O’Reilly, Esther Dyson, WSJ’s Kara Swisher, 2.0 author Sarah Lacy, John Dickerson of Slate, Gawker, Ana Marie Cox and TechCrunch, A-list tech bloggers plus a few C-list hangers-on like me].
The trick to building a Twitter posse, as savvy Twitsters know, is to “follow” people whom you hope will follow you back-or actually maybe write a blog item about the Twitter stream to gain some 2.0 brainshare [!]. So there is clearly something tactical and ambitious about Vanity Fairer’s “following” list. Vanity Fairer appears to be following none of her own personal friends, for instance. A bit curious.
Perhaps, but I think not the way 2.0h…Really? blogger Craig Stoltz sees it; his site tagline says “A Skeptical Look at Emerging Web Technologies” but here I think this skepticism is misplaced. As one who has started a “fake” Twitter account or two in my day (hint: a clue to one of them is embedded somewhere in this post) I don’t see any evidence that this is anything but a fan of the magazine who decided to fill a void left by Conde Nast’s apparent unwillingness to embrace the service. In fact, I think Stoltz’s evidence points in the opposite direction.
First of all, I can’t see why a secretly official account would be any more likely than an amateur to search the VF name on Twitter search and add people mentioning the phrase. In fact, I think the opposite is more likely: that the Vanity Fair Wayfarer has no inside connection and so is simply following people who have indicated an interest (which is how she found me) because that’s the only way to get tweeps’* attention.
Moreover, if the account was itself being followed by other luminaries of the Twitterverse, that I might take as a reason to believe it was real. That would show insider connections; instead this Twitter account seems more to be standing outside the velvet rope, waving at the bouncer and insisting her friends are inside.
Plus I just don’t see the rhyme, reason or motivation for VF to spend any time on this underperforming (approx. 650 followers) account.
Stoltz does point to a recent-ish Facebook stunt by Vanity Fair’s web team, which was kind of amusing and although lacking for even circumstantial evidence, it does mildly insinuate that VF might be game for this kind of trick. If so, it’s a good one and a bad one: the account is visibly lacking in design sense, let alone an art department. And because Graydon Carter would probably Toby Young anyone who tweeted something like:
When will either-or tech pundits realize that it’s okay to be comfortable with contradictions - a la Vanity Fair’s fluff-depth combo?
Meanwhile, I wonder if Vanity Fair knows that @ev and @biz will hand them this account if only they ask:
* I guess I am letting this word into my vocabulary. But not “twestival”. Never.
Have PoliticalMavens.com delivered to your inbox in a daily digest by clicking here