Australian satirical group The Chaser are in hot water for yet again taking a joke just a little bit too far.
Made up of the group’s original trio — Charles Firth, Dominic Knight and Chas Licciardello, the comedians — who are well known for their outrageous ploys especially when politicians are involved — have had their Twitter account suspended after changing the name to “Donald J Trump”.
Just as the US election got underway in the United States overnight, the comedians changed their official @chaser account to a photo of the current US president accompanied by a one-line Tweet: “Don’t vote for me, I’m a massive idiot.”
Twitter then responded by de-verifying the account (i.e. removing the blue tick) and then later suspended the account entirely.
But why did Twitter take such drastic action over a prank?
Twitter’s Impersonation Policy
According to the official help page of the site, impersonating someone is a “violation of the Twitter Rules.”
“Twitter accounts that pose as another person, brand, or organization in a confusing or deceptive manner may be permanently suspended under Twitter’s impersonation policy,” the rules state.
Accounts with “similar usernames” or that are “similar in appearance” i.e. the same profile image “are not automatically in violation of the impersonation policy”.
“In order to violate our impersonation policy, the account must portray another entity in a misleading or deceptive manner.”
In order for an account to be removed, like The Chaser’s, it must meet one or both criteria:
— The user shares your name but has no other commonalities, or
— The profile clearly states it is not affiliated with or connected to any similarly-named individuals or brands.
It’s also interesting to note that Twitter reviews impersonation claims once a report is made, meaning that someone had to report the account for it to be looked at.
“We do not actively monitor users’ content,” it read.
The Chaser’s Response
The Chaser’s website editor, Cam Smith told The Daily Mail that they “understand why Twitter would do this” because “it would not be out of the ordinary for Trump to tweet something so outlandish.”
“If anything, this would have been one of his more reasonable tweets, so we could see how people might get mixed up.”
According to Smith, it only took 20 minutes for the social media site to un-verify the account but quipped that it took them almost four years to start fact-checking the actual president.”
“I guess that’s to be expected, though. We all know comedians’ words are much more dangerous than those of the guy who controls 50 per cent of the world’s nukes.”