Free speech or identity theft?

Fed up with their party’s dismal voter support, some Connecticut Republicans created 33 websites in the names of Democratic state representatives, and registered fake Twitter accounts for these sites. They sent out posts pretending to be from the Democrats, actually mocking them.

There’s nothing new about fake Twitter accounts. This site collected 65 fake Twitter profiles with “Hilarious Tweets”. Some celebrities, such as Tony La Russa, the coach of a US baseball team, launched legal action over bogus accounts. What is new in the case of the Connecticut Republicans is their use of social network sites and Internet technology. Something that may well have secured Obama’s victory last November, they figure.

However, Twitter, Inc. shut down the face accounts, on the grounds that “[a] person may not impersonate others through the Twitter service in a manner that does or is intended to mislead, confuse or deceive others. … Impersonation is against our terms unless it is a parody. The standard for defining parody is, ‘Would a reasonable person be aware that it’s a joke?’ “, according to a Twitter representative. State Republican Chairman Chris Healy interpreted Twitter’s decision as meaning that “…the Democrats were successful in stopping free speech”, displaying his appalling ignorance of the Bill of Rights. What else is new…

Incidentally, the 33 fake websites are still operating. At a quick glance, they look real enough, except for a small note at the very bottom, “Powered by WordPress & Mimbo Paid for and Authorized by the Connecticut Republican Party, Jerry Labriola Jr. Treasurer”. WordPress? Hello??? Don’t you have a similar policy that forbids deception and impersonation?!!

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