The Canadian Public Relations Society

Spotting a fake! Satire Twitter accounts and PR

In Social Media on April 12, 2011 at 11:57 pm

JG: How can I figure out if a twitter account is real or not?  Clearly, this is most un-Zwoz like.

AM: There’s no magic bullet. Most “fake” accounts are satire and are typically labelled as such. Some of them can even be quite funny. The best approach is using your own intuition by treating strange accounts with the healthy skepticism they deserve. But if you have a look at celebrities or even a limited handful of politicians, like @pmharper for example, you will note the light blue “verified” check mark logo.

JG: I sure think Velvet Glove is phoney but it’s got me curious now so it’s an interesting tactic — don’t know yet where it’s going.

AM: Impersonation, anonymous accounts and “trolling” have been present in all internet communities since their earliest days. Only more recently, with Facebook and Twitter becoming the de facto internet communities,  have more people started using their real names. This change in behaviour created a much more fertile environment for satirical accounts lampooning public figures to coexist with the public figures’ real accounts and even take part in the same discussions. These new interactions of fake accounts with real ones have shone the spotlight on an older, but highly recognizable feature of internet culture.

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  1. In today’s Ragan PR Daily there is a story about AP falling for a fake press release. http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/7912.aspx
    I have to say, it makes me want to go back to the turn of the century and start over!! AAAAAARGH.

  2. Great post Andrew and Judi… one of the lessons with Twitter is: if you don’t build it, someone else will, and it may not be a positive reflection of your company. This happened with BP (@bpglobalpr) and with the CRTC (@crtc_pr). I don’t have any experience verifying an account, but I understand it can be a lengthy process (unless you’re Charlie Sheen).

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