Twitter Banning Satirical 'Fake' Versions Of Politicians?

from the that-would-be-unfortunate dept

It's certainly become popular on blogs and on Twitter to create "fake" satirical versions of various famous people. These are usually humorous (or they try to be) over-the-top representations of these celebrities. Usually, they are quite obvious, even to the point of saying that they are "the fake so-and-so" or clearly stating in the bio that this is fake. There should be no confusion around such things. However, a journalist in India who created a "fake" satirical Twitter profile for Indian politician Shashi Tharoor has found herself banned from Twitter without any explanation or chance to appeal. Now, obviously it is Twitter's right to decide whether or not to shut down certain accounts, but you would think with such an obviously fake profile that the company might be a bit more careful and, at the very least, communicate with the account holder about the issues with the account before just shutting it down.


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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 7:41pm

    It seems like basically a good policy. It eliminates the change for confusion, the "moron in a hurry" thing.

    I can imagine that the desire to avoid lawsuits and other legal issues probably helped them with the decision.

    I say bravo. Taking responsibility for your service is an important step.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 7:53pm

      Re:

      No it's a terrible idea. It restricts freedom of speech. Taking away the freedom of speech of others is a step towards tyranny. Darn tyrants.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 8:38pm

        Re: Re:

        There's no such thing as freedom of speech on someone else's private property. Freedom of speech only applies to the government's actions, and private entities that take quasi-governmental roles (like when corporations buy up entire towns).

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 9:10pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Even if true, it still demonstrates the true motive of those who want to censor the Internet. For someone to support facebook on this means that person doesn't want people to have free speech. I say this is really why those that supposedly hate piracy hate the Internet.

          Also, freedom of speech doesn't really exist within mainstream media (ie: the issues we discuss on techdirt hardly get discussed on mainstream media, at least not from a viewpoint that contradicts intellectual property maximism, despite the fact that there seems to be many people who would be more than willing to discuss such matters) and it is the government that grants mainstream media its authority and monopolies over airwaves (ie: the FCC) and infrastructure.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 3:52am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Actually, this is more important: free speech is something that has a time and a place. Absolute free speech isn't something that is really possible. There are always some limits.

            Your free speech is not limited by Twitter. If you want to run a fake politician thing the register a domain, get a host, and start a site. Nobody is stopping your right to free speech, they are only saying that on their service, they don't want your speech.

            One day you will learn that free speech isn't a trump card for everything.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 5:04am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              You're still missing the point. That's not to say that twitters actions in hindering free speech should be encouraged. It should be discouraged. I disagree with twitters censorship of free speech and I disagree with those that agree with them. To the anonymous coward on the first post that agreed with twitter I am merely pointing out that I disagree with that person. Yes, twitter may have a right to control their network but that does not mean I have to agree with how they control their network. I think that they should not hinder free speech on their network and if their actions are not being mandated by law then perhaps people should go to some other social networking service. If they are being mandated by law then the law needs to change. The problem is that the first anonymous coward said that what twitter did is a good thing. It's NOT a good thing, absolutely not. Yes, it's their network and they can control it but it doesn't mean I have to agree with their controls and it doesn't mean that how they are controlling it is a good thing.

               

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 7:55pm

      Re:

      "Taking responsibility for your service is an important step."

      Taking away freedom of speech is a step towards what? Tyranny. Just because speech disagrees with you means it should be censored? Are you afraid someone will make a parody of your corporation or something? Or are you a politician and you're afraid that someone disagreeing with you is a bad thing.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 7:58pm

      Re:

      "'It eliminates the change for confusion, the "moron in a hurry" thing. "

      Well then all disagreement with politicians and others should be censored because disagreeing with the politician requires referencing them and a mere reference may confuse someone into thinking that the person referencing the politician and criticizing that politician is the politician himself/herself. By this logic ALL criticisms of anything should be censored since that criticism has the potential of confusing people into believing such criticism is pretending to be the entity being criticized by merely referencing such entity. This just sounds like a fake pretext towards enforcing tyranny.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 7:59pm

      Re:

      Also I'm sure it's OK with yo when Saturday night live and mad T.V. mock politicians. Why? Because they're mainstream media and it's as long as they make profits it's OK. But for others to compete with their profits by making their own parodies is not acceptable.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 8:37pm

        Re: Re:

        and this is the true reason that the rich and the powerful hate the Internet as it stands

        A: It competes with mainstream media profits and the monopoly that the entertainment industry and the mainstream media had over ideas and thought and criticisms and news and parodies (hence it competes with their profits because it competes with their content).

        B: It allows others to portray ideas and criticisms that the rich and the powerful do not want portrayed while the mainstream media censors such ideas.

        It has nothing to do with piracy, it has more to do with control.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 3:53am

        Re: Re:

        It's okay because it is presented in parody, in a period that even morons in a hurry will know is parody. Hiding an account on twitter that may or may not be a person could lead to confusion.

        Again, your free speech rights don't trump everything.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 5:11am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "It's okay because it is presented in parody"

          and often times these sites present their free speech as a parody just as well. As the OP notes

          "Usually, they are quite obvious, even to the point of saying that they are "the fake so-and-so" or clearly stating in the bio that this is fake."

          "gain, your free speech rights don't trump everything."

          never said they do, but read the OP

          "However, a journalist in India who created a "fake" satirical Twitter profile for Indian politician Shashi Tharoor has found herself banned from Twitter without any explanation or chance to appeal."

          now read the link.

          "The bio in this Twitter account had the word satire and the front page even linked to my satire blog techgirltalk.blogspot.com. The screen dump has been published above. Do you think anyone would mistake it for the real Shashi Tharoor because it says ShashiTharoorMP? If yes, I apologize for trying to impersonate a powerful Congress politician to satirize other politicians."

          http://www.techgoss.com/Story/273S11-Minister-Shashi-Tharoor-evicts-me-from-Twitter .aspx

          The parody WAS presented as satire. If others present a parody as satire then it should be acceptable and in this case it was presented as such.

          You're just bad that people can make parodies that circumvent the control of mainstream media and their ability to choose which satires are acceptable and which ones aren't based on whether or not the satire agrees with the status quo. You're just mad because now the Internet competes with the attention and monopoly rents of the mainstream media.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 5:41am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            sp/bad/mad

            "Again, your free speech rights don't trump everything."

            This person isn't falsely yelling fire in a crowded theater. A parody is acceptable free speech. Or is it that free speech is only acceptable when it agrees with you and when it doesn't compete with mainstream media and their government granted monopoly rents and control over public thought.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 6:49am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              It is acceptable free speech perhaps, but in twitter's case, it is UNWANTED free speech. The point is, your free speech rights don't trump twiiter's right to control the content of their service. They are choosing not to be the home of political satire. That is their right. You want your free speech? Do it on your own service, nobody is stopping you.

              I think Twitter is right, and is working to keep their service from degrading past it's useful purposes.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 9:23am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "I think Twitter is right, and is working to keep their service from degrading past it's useful purposes."

                and I think twitter is wrong and is working towards taking away part of its useful purpose.

                "It is acceptable free speech perhaps, but in twitter's case, it is UNWANTED free speech."

                Unwanted by whom? If twitter doesn't want free speech on their servers then I disagree with their position and my point is that people should perhaps consider going to another server. Or you mean it's unwanted by you?

                "The point is, your free speech rights don't trump twiiter's right to control the content of their service."

                Never said it does so what's your point? You never made a point that contradicted my point. My point is I do not agree with their policy and there is nothing good about such policy.

                 

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          Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 5:14am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "in a period that even morons in a hurry will know is parody."

          no, a moron in a hurry may just as well mistake saturday night live or mad TV as a parody as they may a video on the Internet that clearly states it's a parody. If he's such a moron as to make such a mistake about an internet video then why can't he be a moron to make a mistake about SNL or MAD T.V. Or is it just that he's a moron only when it's convenient to you and your agenda to control others and subject them to tyranny.

           

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      Johnny Lilburne, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 10:00pm

      Re: Moron in a hurry

      It eliminates the change for confusion, the "moron in a hurry" thing.

      But politicians rely on that technique themselves. It's how they always manage to pass really bad laws on a daily basis.

       

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    Xbox Free Live, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 7:44pm

    Why

    I don't know why it is politician specific. What about all of the other knockoffs on twitter?

     

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    Jake, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 9:04pm

    Bear in mind that not every country has safe-harbour provisions as permissive as in the United States; Twitter could find itself very unpopular with the Indian government if someone uses it to commit an offence and it turns out that Twitter either knew but didn't bother doing anything about it or should have known but didn't bother to check.

     

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    Robert Ring (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 9:08pm

    Yeah, that's pretty bad that they would do this with no communication, explanation, or, from what we can tell, complaint from the real person. Are they going to ban fictional characters next?

     

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    thublihnk (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 9:15pm

    I really hope they don't go after @fakemccartney.

    Shit's priceless.

     

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    Bala, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 10:09pm

    Two things are key to this story
    1) The Twitter blog describes this Indian politician as a Twitter Advocate. They have a special relationship
    2) Twitter has not bothered to even send the satirist an email saying we banned your Satire accounts because of so and so reason
    In many ways the new media behaves like old media

     

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    Sheinen, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 3:21am

    Aaaaaaand the myth of Free Speach takes another hit!

    One of our comedians, Jimmy Carr is currently in a heap of trouble for his gag 'you can say what you like about servicemen amputees, but we're going to have a fucking good paralympic team in 2012!'

    Also, Frankie Boyle lost his spot in the weekly topical comedy show 'mock the week' for refusing to back down when compaints about referring to Rebecca Adlington as resembling 'someone who's looking at themselves in the back of a spoon'.

    I don't want to live in the censored, boring world these people are gunning for!

     

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    Bala, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 4:33am

    @ Anonymous Coward. You are saying " Nobody is stopping your right to free speech, they are only saying that on their service, they don't want your speech."

    How do you know what Twitter is saying that? Twitter has not responded to any mails for clarification. The Twitter blog describes this Indian politician as a 'Twitter Advocate'. Until Twitter denies it explicitly, how do we know that one phone call was all that was needed to stop an irritating satirist.

    Twitter can do what they want with their site. But it is best if they make it clear that Satire is not permitted on their site. Google's blogger allows Fake Steve Jobs and everyone (most?) seem to enjoy it.

    No one should speak for Twitter policies until they are a Twitter employee

     

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    Bala, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 5:10am

    @Anonymous Coward (Comment 19). Sir, Now I understand your point. And I am in agreement with you wholeheartedly. You have put it very well.

     

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    Bala, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 9:48am

    Twitter has a right not to host political satire or anything it does not like. No arguement here. The best way to avoid such a situation in the future is to make it clear in TOS that satire is not acceptable. Will Twitter do this? Or allow satire if it does not harm powerful friends?

    Will Twitter make public its desire to ban satire?

    The larger question here is the relationship between Twitter and this Indian politician. Twitter in its official blog describes him as a 'Twitter Advocate' in India. Because of this relationship, were the normal Twitter review processes overlooked to ban this Account?

    If Twitter made a definitive statement, some issues will be clearer (even if everyone does not like them)

    Twitter has a right to do anything. But please make these policies as clear as possible to the world. And if there is a major dispute, make your reasons public.

     

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    Mrs.Lalitha Iyer, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 3:29am

    Shashi Tharoor

    It is unbelievable that a suave, high profile public figure like Shashi Tharoor has behaved like the run of the mill Indian politician who is waiting to feel miffed at the slightest pretext. When he himself could get away with calling the other ministers 'cattle class',how could he ask Twitter to close a blogger's account? And worse still, how did Twitter close her account without so much as a by your leave? It is ridiculous , to say the least!

     

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