While we nerds may best remember LeVar Burton as a VISOR-clad Starfleet officer, he also spent much of the 80s and 90s instilling in children an appreciation for reading. In fact, Burton is still stuck to the idea of encouraging childhood literacy — he launched a new company called RRKidz this past September that’s currently working on (among other things) a “disruptive” new iPad reading app.
But when the time came to set up the all-important Twitter account to provide “the latest info on the upcoming relaunch of [Reading Rainbow] as an app,” he found that someone had already laid claim to the @readingrainbow handle. What’s more, the account owner hadn’t so much as made a peep in the last three years. Being a nice guy, Burton tried reaching out to the account owner but was apparently met with silence.
So what’s a geek icon like LeVar Burton to do? Why, call on his fans of course. Burton tweeted the following last night to his 1.74 million followers and the official Twitter account:
LeVar Burton (@levarburton) February 01, 2012
Ultimately, over 700 users ended up retweeting Burton’s call for help, which apparently prompted the folks at Twitter to leap into action. The @readingrainbow account ended up in Burton’s control within just over two hours of his initial plea. It’s a pretty impressive turnaround time considering some folks faced with similar situations have had to wait days before Twitter managed to make things work in their favor. Then again, most people can’t claim to have spent time debugging the warp core on a Galaxy-class starship.
I crack me up.
Incredibly lame pop culture references aside, Burton’s story isn’t exactly a new one. Though Twitter representatives declined to offer specific numbers when it comes to instances of name squatting, they lay out a clear stance against the practice in their (aptly named) Twitter Rules.
It’s a potentially huge problem for Twitter — with growth still on the uptick, more and more people look at Twitter as a crucial source for real-time news and insight into other people’s lives. Squatters, be they inadvertent or not, have the potential to mar brands and personal reputations, and Twitter will have to keep their collective guards up if they want people and companies to keep up all that sharing.