Sunday, 11 January 2009

Do You Trust Twitter? Should You?

In response to a pathetic and rather lacklustre piece of "journalism" in the Daily Mail, I created ran a (mildly satirical) twitter account under the name @dailymail_uk

A flurry of tweets and all of a sudden I found myself with over 700 followers. About 6 times more than the "official" Daily Mail twitter. Not bad for a week's work.

A few minor blogs such as PressGazette picked up the "story" of a Daily Mail twitter account and taht - I thought was that. Until...

All of a sudden and with no warning I was locked out of Twitter.

I checked through my email archives. One minute I was receiving email to @dailymail_uk like this...

A scant 45 minutes later, I was receiving emails to @notdailmail_ukI checked, double checked and - for the hell of it - triple checked all my inboxes, labels, spam folders and deleted items. There was no sign of twitter sending me any notification as to when or wherefore they had disabled my account.

Using my 1337 h4x0ring skillz (the "Resend Password" facility") I got back access to my renamed account.

I raised a question at GetSatisfaction - which directed me to raise a support request.

I politely asked them what they were playing at. Here is their reply...


We did send out the following notification yesterday. Did you check your spam folder?

We received a letter from the Associated Newspapers Limited, part of Daily Mail & General

Trust Plc, legal adviser. regarding Trademark violation and impersonation. :


We've received a complaint from a fellow Twitterer . It has come to our attention that your Twitter account:

is in violation of our basic Terms of Service, specifically article 4 which mentions impersonation:

4. You must not abuse, harass, threaten, impersonate or intimidate other Twitter users.

In this case "impersonation" is the issue. Impersonation is against our terms of service unless it's parody. The standard for defining parody is, "Would a reasonable person be aware that it's a joke."

To settle this issue we've removed the profile image and changed the user name to "notdailymail_uk" in the full name and username fields in order to eliminate confusion. You can change your real and user names to something else if you'd like:

1. Visit
2. Edit the Full Name and Username fields
3. Click "Save"

Please honor Twitter's Terms of Service accordingly. We appreciate your cooperation in this matter.


Twitter Support

(Emphasis added).
So, the Daily Wail set their lawyers on to Twitter and Twitter - being American - understand neither irony nor sarcasm.

Naturally, I responded to them...

Dear Support,

The account is a parody. I refer you to the following tweets

At least 6 reasonable people think that the account is a parody. I would hope, from reading the tweets, you would also come to the same conclusion.

Please will you reinstate the account with its original username of @dailymail_uk.

I would also be grateful if you could furnish me with a copy of the letter purporting to be from Associated Newspapers Limited.

Many thanks

I have yet to receive a response.

I am not naive. I know that writing a parody of the litigious bastards at The Daily Mail was likely to land me in a spot of bother. But I rather did think that Twitter might show some backbone or - at the very least - allow me to have my say before they gave away my account.

Next time you log on to your favourite social network - be it Twitter, Facebook, Bebo, or even, god help you, MySpace - ask yourself; how well do you trust the owners?

If the owner of your social network decide to get rid of you - for malicious or incompetant reasons - what recourse would you have...?

Probably none.

Let me repeat that. You do not have any control over your Twitter account, Facebook account or MySpace Page. It can be taken from you at any minute.

The case continues...


  1. Twitter support again does not impress, Shit Houses.

  2. "The standard for defining parody is, "Would a reasonable person be aware that it's a joke.""

    Perhaps the issue is what is a reasonable person. I doubt many of your followers weren't aware that it was a joke, but Daily Mail readers or Americans probably just don't "get it"

    Still surely a warning would have actually been more appropriate with time to respond.

    I hope you get a chance to keep up the good work as it's bloody funny!

  3. Now that is total genius. I am however mildly astonished that Daily Mail readers might also be Twitterers. Somehow it doesn't quite fit. I concur with the commenter above also. Do keep us posted.

  4. Surely you're all forgetting that Daily Mail readers are not / never have been 'reasonable people'!

  5. brilliant...watching to see how this turns out!

  6. This is gonna run and run. Actually raises some interesting issues like all the best Twitstorms!

  7. Might be worth looking up the US laws for satire and parody. They are pretty solid because it's covered by the First Amendment (ie freedom of speech).

  8. Please keep the parody going. It really makes me laugh. Besides; the Mail tells us that Twitter is just for celeb boring tit-bits, amirite?

  9. Hmmmm, looks like the Daily Mail hasn't written Twitter content off as a load of pointless, tedious old nonsense after all then.....

  10. I have an idea for you, if you want to point out to Twitter just how ridiculous it was for them to change your name. You should complain that @HolyGod needs to change his name. You are a reasonable Christian, who believes that God may just have a Twitter account. :D

  11. Run a variation of Arkell v. Pressdram. The Daily Mail and readers cannot be considered to be reasonable people, therefore their opinion of satire and parody cannot be considered. And if they complain, they can fuck off.

  12. We will continue to follow your tweets with admiration & amusement. If you ever need to rent flats in London please consider as a Landlord, we need more people like you!

    Best wishes

  13. Glad to have been of service!

    Dave ('natts')

  14. Booh Twitter! Surely Daily Mail readers aren't so obscenely idiotic that they wouldn't recognise this as parody?

    Surely... surely? Actually yea probably, they're all blithering, angry fools.

    Keep it up though, it's good stuff!

  15. @Nick Parkin --- that has to be the worst plug I have EVER read.

  16. probably good to take not that the Daily Mail led the witch hunt against @wossy and Russel Brand - and has a readership of reactionary lunatics.
    i don't think they understand anything at all - especially parody.

  17. hmmm - typing issues this morning - meant to say take on board befure 'that the daily mail'

  18. Um of COURSE you do not have control over your social networking accounts. It is naive to even think you would. The storage, concept and bandwidth is not yours. They are FREE services. Of course you do not own anything. Buy a server and host your own content - you can own that (within reason - your ISP can monkey with even that).

  19. Gah, your profile always made me laugh, it still will. How can anybody not see it was a parody account?

    Humourless sods, bet they just found out about the internet, and the fact it's full of nonces & other bad people (such as foreigners).

    Stuck the story on Digg (who's really been getting a Daily Mail backlash going on at the moment), if you have an account you can give it some loving :)

  20. I just read that Daily Mail article on the banalities of Twitter, and was struck by all the links to articles about Jade Goody, Kurt Russell putting on weight, what Victoria Beckham is wearing, someone has a flashy ring, someone is eating a hamburger... This irony is lost on them?

    BTW, Twitter stole my account too:

  21. Copyright law is has provisions for parody. But the complaint sent to Twitter referenced *trademark* law, which is quite different. There is no provision for parody with trademark, and companies are legally required to protect their marks.

    You used the exact registered trademark of a corporation. You should thank Twitter for not completely erasing your account.

  22. Zota: The email says the Daily Mail goons contacted regarding ‘Trademark violation and impersonation’, but Twitter's subsequent message only concerns the impersonation aspect, in which they explicit point out satire is acceptable.

  23. great post, love it, thanks for providing some enlightening commentary on what is clearly a grey area in which they are very scared to tread. And no i do not trust twitter at all...

    a frequent twitter

  24. Twitter have obviously been engaging in what is affectionately know in the UK as sucking corporate cock.

  25. Why hasn't Twitter banned the Daily Fail for impersonating a newspaper?