They have fooled users worldwide with false Twitter profiles and for the nameless cyber-comedians who pretend on Twitter they’re leading figures, playing silly buggers is a hobby they won’t be giving up soon.
From Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, to Angie Motshekga and Peter de Villiers – well-known personalities are finding themselves the victims of Twitter jokers who put them in their place or imitate them and make jokes on their behalf.
“South Africans have to deal with all sorts of unfair things: from high petrol prices to teachers who wouldn’t know what a pass grade is – you name it! So spoof accounts simultaneously provide readers with instant comedy while belittling the very thing troubling them,” says the user behind the Twitter profile @TelkomRSA.
The 30-year-old IT specialist, who anonymously talked to YOU via e-mail, was until recently not even a Telkom client, but has maintained this Twitter profile for the past 18 months.
“I just wanted to write South African parody and I went for something everyone in SA knows and loathes,” he says.
Another nameless joker in control of @SABCtoo is similarly motivated to kid in the name of the national broadcaster.
“We are the faceless voice that makes light of real topics people grapple with daily. We broadcast things people feel and think but don’t necessarily say.”
According to @TelkomRSA and @SABCtoo, neither Telkom nor the SABC have asked them to remove the profiles and various users have accepted they really are these companies.
“Sometimes I get infuriated customers who are experiencing ADSL speeds that are overtaken by passing butterflies. I’ll play along for a while, advising them to move countries to get better speeds and so on, but where there’s genuine distress I generally advise them via private messaging to contact the real Telkom twitter account,” says @TelkomRSA.
What is Twitter’s policy on such profiles?
Users may create such joking profiles but they must, in the language of their choice, indicate on the profile they’re not the real thing, according to Twitter’s official policy. Words and phrases such as “fake”, “parody” or “this is a fan page” must appear in the profile’s name or description to enable users to tell the difference between real and false profiles.
“If an account is found to be deceptive or misleading we [Twitter] may request that the user make further changes to bring the account more in line with these best practices,” the policy reads on Twitter’s website.
If users continue to deceive their followers, Twitter may remove the profile for good.
Some of the local joking profiles’ most popular tweets:
– Christiaan Boonzaier
Extra source: support.twitter.com/articles