UK Government Official Gets Twitter Parody Account Closed Down For Mocking Politicians And Heads Of Large Companies

from the makes-you-gag dept

A couple of weeks ago, the UK passed what has become known as the “gagging bill”, because it puts major restrictions on how much charities and activist groups can spend while campaigning on political issues before an election. But that wasn’t the only thing the UK government was up to on the gagging front, as Tom Pride explains in a blog post:

as if to celebrate the occasion, a Twitter parody account that was critical of coalition policies was closed down after complaints were made from government officials.

The parody account was called @UKJCP, and it was a spoof of the UK’s Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), which had sent the following demand via Twitter to the parody account before it was closed down:

Can you stop RT tweets we have not written — it is not satire and is confusing to customers. It also exceeds your twitter agreement.

As Pride points out:

So now we’ve not just got government departments deciding what forms of public criticism are acceptable, but also deciding for us what exactly is humorous and what isn’t.

Since the parody account was shut down by a UK government department, it was possible to put in a freedom of information request for the exact details of the takedown demand. Here’s the key part (pdf):

The @UKJCP account has been set up with deliberate and malicious intent to devalue and criticise the work of Jobcentre Plus [the JCP in @UKJCP]. In addition, there are a number of rude and potentially libelous tweets aimed at UK government, elected politicians and the heads of large private sector organisations who are committed to working with government on reducing unemployment.

The story has a happy ending because the parody account has now been re-instated. But as Pride comments:

Apart from the obvious concern that UK government officials are openly trying to close down criticism of government, politicians and business leaders — I’m also pretty shocked that Twitter agreed to the request.

At least Twitter changed its mind on this particular kind of gagging — unlike the UK government.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

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Comments on “UK Government Official Gets Twitter Parody Account Closed Down For Mocking Politicians And Heads Of Large Companies”

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16 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

i’m waiting to read about anything that isn’t liked concerning the election itself next year and who is stopped from donating to what other parties (wont affect the Tories. that’s why they wanted this bill in!) then wait for the religious nuts to start. Cameron is a fucking idiot! he doesn’t have a clue what can of worms he’s opened. it will, sooner or later, come back and bite him though, wait and see!

PlagueSD says:

UK passed what has become known as the “gagging bill”, because it puts major restrictions on how much charities and activist groups can spend while campaigning on political issues before an election.

Does this bill also pose the same restrictions to corporations and other “entities”? or is this just another way of limiting the “little guy”?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

This government have been plagued by online groups like 38 degrees who have been speaking out against their policies.

The gagging law basically silences them and charities for the year before the election. It was sold as an anti lobbying bill but reading the text made it obvious that it was aimed at dissenters.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I cannot believe something like this was able to pass, the uk is hopeless……..un-fcking-belivable…………un-fcking-believable that im only hearing of it now……….there is a SERIOUS communication problem here in the uk, nobody wants to talk to eachother about these things, until that changes, nothing will, how can you fight something you dont agree with, if you dont know anything about it……..at least the americans care enough to share what they find ffs

Sardondi (profile) says:

Need we remind anyone that George Orwell and Aldous Huxley were Englishmen? It was no mistake that Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm, and Huxley’s Brave New World, novels about bleak dystopian societies where the totalitarian government’s elite leaders ruled unilaterally and ran roughshod over the rights of the average citizens, were each set in England. Those British authors merely saw the future of their country clearly.

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