On BP’s request, Twitter has enforced its policy on parody/impersonation, requiring that satirical @BPGlobalPR clearly mention that it is not the real BP on it’s Twitter page. The not-even-a-month old parody account, which has twelve times the followers of the official BP_America, has changed its bio from
This page exists to get BP’s message and mission statement out into the Twitterverse.
We are not associated with Beyond Petroleum [sic], the company that has been destroying the Gulf of Mexico for 51 days.
Two weeks ago, BP seemed to have a far different attitude toward the upstart feed:
In an article from May 24th, AdAge noted that BP had not yet complained about the feed to Twitter (they say the feed only had about 13,000 followers at that point, but still more than twice those of BP).
Toby Odone, a spokesman at BP, told Ad Age: “I’m not aware of whether BP has made any calls to have it taken down or addressed. People are entitled to their views on what we’re doing and we have to live with those. We are doing the best we can to deal with the current situation and to try to stop the oil from flowing and to then clean it up.”
We’re fine with the parody sites as long as they don’t interfere with the residents of the Gulf and their ability to get in touch with us to get the resources they need at this time.
Ms. Feick is part of “a new communications team brought in to relieve those who had been there for the past few weeks.” Hmm.
BP, is of course, well within it’s rights to demand that BPGlobalPR state clearly that it is a parody. Twitter’s policy on the subject is as follows: “In order to avoid impersonation, an account’s profile information should make it clear the creator of the account is not actually the same person or entity as the subject of the parody/commentary.” Does BP regret not nipping the feed in the bud? Certainly there would be considerable backlash if they asked Twitter to shut the feed down (as companies have done before), especially with more than 150,000 people watching. Making that the feed is clearly labeled parody is the extent of what they can do without garnering criticism, to the extent that BP can do anything without garnering criticism these days.
In conclusion, we would suggest that if the subject of your parody is so similar to the parody itself that one needs to specify, it is the subject that needs to change. Jonathan Swift doesn’t have a Twitter feed, though, so who knows.