Twitter Deletes Fake Tony La Russa, But Won't Play Ball

As the San Francisco Web startup boots an impersonator, a lawsuit with baseball icon remains unsettled

By Jessica Greene and Owen Thomas
|  Saturday, Jun 6, 2009  |  Updated 9:50 PM PDT
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Twitter Deletes Fake Tony La Russa, But Won't Play Ball

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This time Tony La Russa took a swing at Twitter.

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A lawsuit between former A's manager Tony La Russa and San Francisco-based Twitter is still on. The popular San Francisco message-broadcasting startup, which had hosted "tweets" posted by a La Russa impersonator, says it has deleted the faker's account, but intends to fight the lawsuit.

In a post on Twitter's official blog, cofounder Biz Stone wrote that La Russa's lawsuit was "bordering on frivolous."

STL Today incorrectly reported that the lawsuit had been settled out of court, citing statements made by La Russa.

The former baseball coach is well known here in the Bay Area for loving animals and dancing once a year in a Christmas ballet, but La Russa played hardball with Twitter when he filed a lawsuit against the social-networking site, claiming a fake page using his name damaged his reputation and caused emotional distress.

The suit, filed last month in San Francisco Superior Court against the social-networking site, claimed trademark infringement, cybersquatting and misappropriation of name and likeness, saying a fake page using his name damaged his reputation and caused emotional distress.

The suit became public Thursday.

La Russa said Friday that the suit had been settled and that damages would likely consist of legal fees and “maybe something for ARF in there." His claims were utterly false, according to Stone, who wrote:

Reports this week that Twitter has settled a lawsuit and officially agreed to pay legal fees for an impersonation complaint that was taken care of by our support staff in accordance with our Terms are erroneous. Twitter has not settled, nor do we plan to settle or pay.

Stone noted that the Twitter account bearing La Russa's name is no longer active, a step Twitter routinely takes when notified of fake accounts in line with its terms of service.

Twitter has long struggled with the problem of fake accounts. Other celebrities with Twitter impersonators include Christopher Walken, Dina Lohan, and the recently jailed Phil Spector.

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