Parody or fake accounts are fun, but in some situations they can be harmful to the brand or image of the individual or institution being impersonated.
How to spot a parody account on Twitter [Pulse Contributor's Opinion]
Can you tell which is a parody account?
Twitter doesn't prohibit creation of parody, newsfeed, commentary, and fan accounts, but does lay out rules to help them appear distinguishable from the real accounts.
These accounts are required to clearly indicate in the bio and the account name - which is different from the @handle - that they are not affiliated with the original account owner.
The most important factor here is that the public must be able to differentiate the parody/fake account from the real one.
As Kenya's Twitter activity continues to become more vibrant everyday, parody accounts are increasingly becoming popular with a number of them attracting tens of thousands of followers.
Because of the large following, the public might confuse these accounts with the legit ones. This becomes even almost unavoidable when the figure or institutions either do not have accounts or if they do, aren't verified.
Unfortunately, not all users create these fake accounts for comic and fun purposes, but to share misleading information. Also, in the process of expressing jokes and making fun, parody accounts may unintentionally share deluding information.
Most recently, popular Kenyan rapper Mejja had to go public to disown remarks made by a parody Twitter account. What's interesting is, with all the clout he carries, the Utawezana artist still doesn't have an official Twitter page yet.
The parody account, which has over 16,000 followers, indicates in the bio that it's a fan page. In reference to Jalango's rumored involvement in the 'wash wash' scam, the parody user posted an old photo of Jalang'o speaking with Mejja, while making remarks that could lead to misunderstanding.
In the caption, the user wrote: "Mimi nilikataa kujiunga wash-wash. Kuibia wakenya siwezi. Avoid those people!"
In another tweet, the user continued to troll Jalas, stating: "He tried to convince me lakini wapi, together we are gonna end corruption."
Mejja shared screenshots of the tweets clarifying that it's not his account. "Siko Twitter. Hii Ni FAKE ACCOUNT! Wadau itabidi nifungue juu ya hii ufala! Shukran kwa wale wasee wame ni-DM nijue," he wrote in the caption.
Now, if Mejja had a verified Twitter account, it wouldn't be hard to realize that the mockery against Jalas was made by a fake account.
In this case, since the parody account describes itself as a fan account in the bio, Mejja should blame himself and his PR team for not creating his official page all these years he's been on the spotlight.
In July 2021, Embakasi MP Babu Owino was outraged after finding out that a parody account bearing his name had been verified instead of his.
“I would like to make a clarification on my Twitter account. My official Twitter account is @HEBabuOwino. Twitter has made a great mistake to verify a fake account under my account under my name called @Babu Owino1 or @HEBabuOwino_. Those are fake accounts and I will like to distance myself from it. Any other information that Kenyans will get from that account @HEBabuOwino_ is fake account which has been verified by Twitter which means the scammers went ahead forged my ID and used it for verification of the same account, so ignore,” Owino said in a statement.
At the time of publishing, the parody account, which has over 40,000 followers, still has its bio reading "the earth is hard", instead of indicating that its a parody account.
The foregoing is an Opinion Article submitted to Pulse Live Kenya for publication as part of the Pulse Contributors initiative.
Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf.
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Timothy Mwachia is a young journalist interested in writing about entertainment and lifestyle. He has contributed news articles at Daily Rap Facts and The Dope Way and he's obsessed with knowledge - "I've got a thing for watching documentaries, reading and writing," he says.
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