The whole point of Twitter is that you get to constantly update everyone on your list about what you're doing in just a sentence or so. Plenty of artists have jumped on the bandwagon, from Mark Hoppus to Dave Navarro to, unfortunately, TMI repeat offender John Mayer.
But according to The New York Times, what you see isn't always what it appears to be when you sign up for an artist's Twitter feed.
For instance, say you're one of the 200,000 people signed up for [artist id="330"]50 Cent[/artist]'s feed, and you saw his eloquent March 1 post in which he opined, "My ambition leads me through a tunnel that never ends." Deep, right? But prompted the savvy businessman and beef-addicted rapper to write such a line? Apparently you'd have to ask "Broadway" (a.k.a. Chris Romero), the director of 50's Web empire, who tweeted the thoughtful comment after reading it in an interview.
"He doesn't actually use Twitter," Romero told the paper about his boss. "But the energy of it is all him." The energy, huh?
Apparently 50's not the only one with a ghost Twitterer. The paper reported that [artist id="330"]Britney Spears[/artist] recently ran an ad looking for someone to tweet for her and update her Facebook page. Prodigious blogger Kanye West told New York magazine that he recently hired two people to help him keep up with his frequent posts.
One of Spears' former consultants, Joseph Nejman, who helped her ramp up her Web strategy, told the Times that he thought critics of the ghost posts were being hypocrites. "It's OK to tweet for a brand," he said, noting that many companies have Twitter accounts, "but not OK for a celebrity. But the truth is, they are a brand. What they are to the public is not always what they are behind the curtain. If the manager knows that better than the star, then they should do it."
In fact, over the past few months, Spears, whose account was hacked recently, has been very open about the ghostwriting, according to the Times. Whereas it used to appear that Spears wrote every post, lately the updates have been signed by "Adam Leber, manager" and "Lauren" (a.k.a. Lauren Kozak, social-media director of britneyspears.com).
Among the other bold-faced names mentioned in the article who have surrogate Twitterers are Web-savvy 2008 presidential candidate Ron Paul and President Barack Obama, who both reportedly have staff members assigned to tweet on their behalf.
But some, like baller Shaquille O'Neal — who has a following of 430,000 — refuse to subcontract out their thoughts. "If I am going to speak, it will come from me," O'Neal said. "It's 140 characters. It's so few characters. If you need a ghostwriter for that, I feel sorry for you."