Bloomberg News

Bini Smaghi Battles Twitter for Ex-ECB Official Impostor

August 24, 2012

Lorenzo Bini Smaghi

Former European Central Bank Executive Board member Lorenzo Bini Smaghi said he’s frustrated at Twitter Inc.’s failure to remove an impersonator from the website of the microblogging service. Photographer: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg

Former European Central Bank Executive Board member Lorenzo Bini Smaghi said he’s frustrated at Twitter Inc.’s failure to remove an impersonator from the website of the microblogging service.

“I really wish to make it clear that the Twitter account Lorenzo Bini Smaghi @BiniSmaghi20 is not me,” Bini Smaghi, who left the ECB’s Executive Board at the end of last year and isn’t a Twitter user, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “It is totally false and it is extremely frustrating for me to have an impersonator commenting on ECB business on my behalf.”

The remarks prompted the user of the account @BiniSmaghi20, which has Bini Smaghi’s full name and photograph on its profile page, to post that he’s “not the real Bini Smaghi.” The user has posted more than 1,000 Twitter messages including comments on Europe’s sovereign debt crisis and ECB policy. The account has 428 followers, down one from yesterday, and is a follower of 322 other users.

Unlike obvious spoof accounts mimicking German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Queen Elizabeth II and Bank of England Governor Mervyn King, the @BiniSmaghi20 user regularly engages in seemingly serious Twitter conversations about Spanish and Italian budget policy. On Aug. 20, the day after German magazine Der Spiegel reported the ECB may impose yield caps on sovereign bonds, the user posted messages saying “ECB will act” and “the market is manipulated.”

‘Particularly Frustrating’

Bini Smaghi, 55, said he has asked Twitter a number of times to close down the account, as yet to no avail. Helen Prowse, a spokeswoman for Twitter, said in an e-mail yesterday that the company doesn’t comment on individual cases.

The Twitter messages are “particularly frustrating in the current environment as people may assume this impersonator reveals any inside information from the ECB,” he said before the user changed his profile details.

Bini Smaghi left the ECB at the end of 2011 to take up a position at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. He is also now chairman of Italian utility company Snam Rete Gas.

ECB President Mario Draghi faced a similar issue after he took the helm at the central bank in November 2011, forcing the ECB to state twice, on Jan. 17 and Feb. 13, that the @MarioDraghiECB account was a fake.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gabi Thesing in London at gthesing@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net


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