Well, with interest in the spill winding down and needing a new way to draw attention to himself and his hopeful career in comedy writing, the “mastermind” behind the fake twitter account “BPGlobalPR” has been revealed. Thanks to ABC News. Josh Simpson, a budding comedian from Los Angeles created the popular Twitter account, supported by a number of other comedy writers.
On a webinar I did last week for PRSA with one of the top BP communication leaders, the question came up about what BP did about this fake account. Nothing was the answer, a completely correct answer. Certainly there were those within the company and no doubt in the legal department who would have loved to do something, but if anyone had seriously advocated taking some action it would have just shown their ignorance of the social media environment. The ABC news reporter seemed a little surprised and confused when Josh said that BP really did nothing to stop him. It’s the right strategy of course. Let them have their fun, and actually, like the YouTube video about BP executives spilling coffee, it was actually quite funny some of the time.
But, there is only one time to be first with something like this. This was not the first fake Twitter account–I blogged about ExxonMobil’s trouble with this a long time ago. And Twitter seems perfectly happy to allow this kind of behavior to go on–why not? Good publicity and all that. The problem is, the next event will have a hundred Josh Simpson wannabes. The competition for fake Twitter accounts will be immense, thanks in large part to ABC News. How many budding comedians, or just angry young video game players, won’t start up a Twitter account the next time something seriously goes wrong? After all, they might get a spot on national news and start a whole new line of work.
So, crisis communicators, beware. We’ve only seen the beginning of fake Twitter accounts to pop up in major events.
I did get a kick out of Josh’s plans for the future. He’s going to start a GlobalPR twitter account that is aimed at corporations who act irresponsibly. I wonder if his definition of irresponsibility might include posing as someone he is not? Oh dear, that is getting too serious for fake Twitter fans. Still, might be interesting to see a twitter account targeting comedians who act irresponsibly. Just a thought.