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When Parody Twitter Accounts Go Too Far - Gerald Chan

Opinion

Published on November 15th, 2012 | by Gerald Chan

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When Parody Twitter Accounts Go Too Far

“It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt” Or in this day and age until someone gets slapped with a lawsuit.

The parody account @SingTelSupports seemed to have experienced this and have now taken the tone of their tweets to the category of ‘funny-jibes’ rather than ‘outright-hostile’.

Some background here – What @SingTelSupports does it that it connects with users on Twitter who are unhappy with the SingTel mobile service. At some point of time, the responses were spiked barbs of vitriol that pissed a few users off. I’m pretty sure that given that a user is already pissed off at not being able to access data on his phone, the last thing he would want is someone impersonating the company that he is angry at to compound the displeasure.

It is a pity that I did not taken more screenshots before they were deleted (shucks!)

What is Twitter’s stand on parody accounts and what can companies do about them?

In a nutshell, there’s little a company can do to the offending account if the account specifically states that it is no way affiliated to the company. Steps to distinguish itself would be to plainly state that it is a parody account in the description and trying their best not to use any logos that are trademarked or copyrighted. Once that is done, Twitter has already said that it’s fair game.

At an even more advanced level, Shell, the global oil company, themselves have been a target of an elaborate social media campaign to highlight their environmental impact. The campaign consists of a Twitter account, Facebook account and an actual working website. It fooled many on the Internet and the spread of the campaign was accelerated with the use of image macros which allowed visitors to create mocking slogans directed at Shell’s efforts in the arctic.

This is where the line is drawn. If these parody accounts are created with the sole purpose to generate malice, I’m sure any company is more than willing to summon their army of lawyers to take the battle to the courtroom. But it seems that such actions don’t hold much weight in the UK, it might not be the same in Singapore.

So seriously, how does a company combat parody accounts? Apart from the advice that your PR company will give you like “make sure that your customers know that it’s not really you”, companies might also want to stop being dicks themselves.

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About the Author

Thanks for visiting my blog! If it's video game related, I'm pretty much all over it! I'm Singaporean and in real life I'm involved heavily in social media.



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