Why did the world do a better job of verifying Mrs. Rupert Murdoch's Twitter account than Twitter?
In the end, the lesson of the The Great Wendi Deng Twitter Hoax may be that the world does a better job of verifying Twitter accounts than Twitter itself.
For those who may be unaware, it seems a trickster established a fake Twitter account in the name of Wendi Deng, who just happens to be the wife of worldwide media mogul Rupert Murdoch, which both Twitter and a spokesperson from Murdoch's News International initially confirmed was real.
Making matters more confusing, Murdoch did establish a real Twitter account Sunday, which made headlines as he posted an endorsement of GOP candidate Rick Santorum and a small, sideways dig at former Fox News star Glenn Beck.
(UPDATE: @KaraSwisher unearths what actually happened. Because the name on fake account was the same as Deng's real account -- except for a "_" between the first and last names -- her people and Twitter officials got confused. Why Twitter couldn't just fess up with this story in the first place, seems to be the only mystery left.)
According to The Guardian newspaper in Britain, the British man who says he created the account also says Twitter didn't contact him to confirm its veracity, declining to send a message even to the email account connected to the Twitter page.
It took a small explosion of journalists and Twitterers gabbing over the posts -- which included a saucy message to Ricky Gervais -- to unearth the truth. Eventually, News International admitted the account was fake and so did Twitter, which hasn't yet explained how it screwed up.
Critics say the whole mess indicates Twitter's verification system, which has supposedly been discontinued anyway, can't be trusted.
I say it proves the Internet is always the ultimate verification system for much of what appears on it. So it may not matter much whether Twitter can police itself, because there's plenty of others connected to the service out there who can.