Paul Ryan adds VP to his Twitter handle

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(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY The intricacies of politics are confusing enough. Add social media and things can get even more bizarre. To wit, Twitter appears to have appointed Paul Ryan as vice president. As blogger Ari Herzog points out, Twitter has verified Ryan's PaulRyanVP account. Not VP candidate, that is, but VP. (That would still be a step down from Mitt Romney introducing Ryan as president.)

As a Twitter spokesperson explained, verification only confirms that a given account holder is the person he or she claims to be. "Questions as to whether the name is presumptuous should be referred to the campaign," the spokesperson said.

The verified account program adds a white checkmark in a blue circle to user accounts:

Twitter proactively verifies accounts on an ongoing basis to make it easier for users to find who they're looking for. We concentrate on highly sought users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, advertising, business, and other key interest areas. We verify business partners from time to time and individuals at high risk of impersonation.

Twitter says that it does not accept requests for verification, but takes the initiative to do so for people in "music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, advertising, business, and other key interest areas." One of the easiest ways to authenticate an account is to link to it from an "official website."

In other words, someone from the Romney campaign would have chosen the Twitter handle. Although one could argue that the VP is meant to refer to a vice presidential candidate, it would have been as easy to choose a handle like @PaulRyanforVP.

Someone else already has the @PaulRyan handle. This Paul Ryan is listed as being in San Francisco and has the following description:

A Tudor who tooted a flute tried to tutor two tooters to toot. Said the two to their tutor, "Is it harder to toot or to tutor two tooters to toot?"

Rep. Ryan already has a verified account called @RepPaulRyan, which is linked to from his official congressional webpage. It might be that the ROmney campaign wanted to obtain the handle before someone else could grab it and perhaps to engage in a little political satire. There is already a @PaulRyanGosling account that, according to the Atlantic Wire, is a mashup of actor Ryan Gosling and the Republican vice-presidential candidate. Mitt Romney does have an @MittRomney account on Twitter.

The Romney campaign has not yet responded to questions about Ryan's Twitter name.

  • Erik Sherman On Twitter»

    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.

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