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A tale of two Twitter accounts

If you are a Twitter user in Bozeman, there is a good chance you have followed an account called [@bznpolicereport](

The account posts the infamous Bozeman police reports. Its description: “Funny police reports from Bozeman, Montana. If you like these, take a look at the book” and then provides the URL for [the page to buy a copy of the Chronicle’s book]( The account lists its homepage as the Chronicle’s.

But there is another account called [@police_reports]( Its description labels it as “The official source of the world famous Bozeman Daily Chronicle police reports on Twitter. It lists its homepage as [the police reports page on the Chronicle site](

The former account has 2,936 followers. The latter has 88. The former posts text only status updates; the latter posts truncated text updates with links back to a Facebook page. The former joined Twitter in March 2009, the latter in July 2011.

One of these accounts is controlled by the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. The other is not.

I’d like to say that the one with nearly 3,000 followers is ours, but it isn’t. In fact, I have no idea who operates it or how — automated or hand-crafted.

What does the Chronicle intend to do about it this egregious case of intellectual property theft?

Nothing. In fact, I have a hard time calling it theft at all.

Twitter has [guidelines for parody, commentary and fan accounts]( Technically, the @bznpolicereport account fails to follow a few of these guidelines, but it has upheld the important one:

* “The account should not, through private or public communication with other users, try to deceive or mislead others about your identity. For example, if operating a fan account, do not direct message other users implying you are the actual subject (i.e., person, band, sports team, etc.) of the fan account.”

The account may post Chronicle content, but the only links on it go back to the Chronicle site and in fact promote our book — sales that the owner of the Twitter account doesn’t benefit from in any way (that I know of).

So we remain in this odd situation of an unofficial entity holding more sway than the official entity. It’s kind of weird to think about someone out there liking your product so much that they promote it for free and without self benefit (that I know of).

It sure would be neat to know who the person is.