Celebrities say they love Twitter because it lets them connect with their fans directly, but they don't want to give up quite as much privacy as the rest of us plebes. That's where the service WhoSay comes in.

You've probably seen a Tweet containing a link to a celebrity's photo on WhoSay and thought nothing of it. The New York Times reports that it's similar to other sites that let users share photos on Twitter, like TwitPic, Yfrog or Plixi. However, while these sites are open to anyone and will often claim ownership of uploaded photos or sell ads next to them, WhoSay lets stars keep ownership of their photos.

According to WhoSay's website, the site is invitation-only and is verified as a celebrity's real account. So far it's used by stars including Tom Hanks, Kevin Spacey, Jim Carrey, John Cusack, Bill Maher, Johnny Knoxville, Chelsea Handler, Eva Longoria, Spike Lee, Enrique Iglesias, and Katie Couric. WhoSay photos include labels like "copyright Tom Hanks," and fine print that warns of "fine and imprisonmnent if the photo is used without the celebrity's permission.

Stars may be more inclined to use the service now, since in January Plixi agreed to sell photos uploaded by celebrities through a British news organization. Eventually the deal was called off after an anonymous celebrity contacted the company directly to complain about the site profiting from their Tweets. Most Twitter users don't pay much attention to which site hosts a photo, but for celebrities like Alanis Morissette, WhoSay lets her share a picture of her baby, without worrying that she'll have no legal recourse if it ends up on the cover of Star.

Stars Gain Control of Online Images [NYT]
WhoSay