On Tuesday, BP (BP) contacted the man behind the Twitter sensation known as @BPGlobalPR and asked him to be a little more fake. Twitter reported to the New York Times that "BP requested that the account holder be asked to comply with Twitter's guidelines regarding parody." In other words, to specifically state the fact of inauthenticity in the profile or Twitter ID.
The tweet that was volleyed back by @BPGlobalPR quickly shot to the front of the Top Tweets list. "Not sure what we've done wrong, but we've been asked to change our name/profile to indicate that we're 'fake'," wrote "Leroy Stick," the pseudonym of the anonymous Californian behind @BPGlobalPR.
BP should be careful about what it asks for. Now, the account's bio reads: "We are not associated with Beyond Petroleum, the company that has been destroying the Gulf of Mexico for 52 days." (He has changed the bio every day, reflecting the number of days since the explosion that began the biggest oil spill in U.S. history.)
In addition, Stick began a campaign to "rebrand" BP, asking Twitter followers what they thought the letters "BP" really stand for. "Beyond Pollution" was one common response; "Bloody Petrol" was one of the less profane suggestions. I wrote to Stick and asked for his comment. "The changes we've made to our bio are the only changes we are willing to make. If BP isn't happy, they are more than welcome to shut us down and deal with the backlash," he wrote.
Indeed, the number of times the tweet announcing BP's official request was retweeted likely exceeded the number of times the untrue (but prescient) original joke about the satiric account was rebroadcast by other Twitter users ("BP wants Twitter to shut down fake acct mocking the co. Twitter wants BP to shut down oil leak that's ruining the ocean"). On Wednesday, @BPGlobalPR delivered another of its trademark zingers at the company-it-isn't: "Will Twitter please shut down @BP_America - no one can tell if it's a joke!"
The request, it seems, has made BP a punchline once more.
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