UPDATE: The @michaeljordan account has now been suspended. Well done @Twitter – only took you about six months to notice.
Twitter has a strange, hot-and-cold policy to the suspension of what they refer to as ‘impersonator’ accounts, and which the rest of the world refers to as fakes.
You may recall the suspension of the Christopher Walken spoof account in March 2009. At the time, the profile was nearing 100,000 fans, which was a big deal a year ago, and was enormously popular, picking up a ton of retweets and mentions and also getting some attention in the mainstream press. However, the parody breached Twitter’s TOS regarding impersonation and was removed with no warning or fanfare, at least not from Twitter themselves.
That’s fine – that’s their rule, after all – but the problem is, much like anything else that falls under official Twitter policy, they seem to thrive on an attitude of ‘one rule for one’.
The (clearly) fake Michael Jordan account is a prime example. I mean, it’s a hoot, but it’s not real, and yet Twitter seems not to care about it one little bit.
Not only does that account have almost 75,000 followers, but it’s got the right username, too – @michaeljordan – and I can’t begin to imagine why Michael Jordan himself doesn’t do something about it. Or, for that matter, any of the many other representatives of the multi-billion dollar franchise that Jordan’s name represents.
Earlier this year, Twitter added some legislation on their stance towards parody accounts, which you can read here. Again, that’s fine, and probably a good idea, but under their guidelines for acceptability they write this:
- Username: The username should not be the exact name of the subject of the parody, commentary, or fandom; to make it clearer, you should distinguish the account with a qualifier such as “not,” “fake,” or “fan.”
- Name: The profile name should not list the exact name of the subject without some other distinguishing word, such as “not,” “fake,” or “fan.”
- Bio: The bio should include a statement to distinguish it from the real identity, such as “This is a parody,” “This is a fan page,” “Parody Account,” “Fan Account,” or “This is not affiliated with…”
- Communication with other users: 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.
It’s fairly obvious that the Michael Jordan account breaks all of these rules.
Furthermore, the other (confirmed) fake accounts that I wrote about in my piece on Walken’s suspension are all still active, too, many of which also use the real name of the celebrity. Sure, some of them haven’t updated in months, but they’re still out there, tricking newbies and sucking up followers like Pac-Man.
Albeit one who goes by a very different name off-screen.