One must always be on the lookout for fake or parody Twitter accounts, as the Wall Street Journaland U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron have both discovered. The latest public figure undone by a satirical profile is New York City councilwoman Inez Dickens, whose current ambition is to become the city council’s next speaker.
A new version of Dickens’s campaign website—she’s running for re-election in the City Council’s 9th district, which encompasses much of Harlem and other parts of upper Manhattan—featured a link allowing voters to follow her on Twitter. The account, you will not be surprised to hear, is actually a joke at Dickens’s expense.
“As the next speaker, I get a lot of media inquiries. I am always happy to talk. Here is my comment,” reads the most recent tweet from @SpeakerDickens, which links to a Village Voice article about how Dickens called a reporter “a lying piece of shit.”
Elsewhere, there are cutting comments about Dickens’s shady practices as a landlord. “Affordable housing is my top priority. Click here 2 read about my housing plan for low-income tenants,” one post encourages, linking to a New York Post story about Dickens (who is also Council Ethics Committee Chairwoman) siccing debt collectors on the tenants of her buildings. Some of her properties have also been cited for dangerous conditions, resulting in huge fines.
So, why would the Dickens campaign embed this caustic bit of character assassination on their own homepage? The answer is that they wouldn’t, apparently. The New York Observer, which first noticed the gaffe, stated in an update that Dickens HQ claimed the site was hacked.
The parody account took this response in stride—its author may even be the culprit behind the attack, if indeed it is one and not just a mistake on the campaign’s part—as evidenced by some follow-up posts which joked that the author of the Observer piece was “just another bitter former tenant who owes me rent $$$$$.” The phony Dickens also reached out to another prominent New York politician who once tried to hide his mistakes behind a “hackers” soundbite:
@anthonyweiner As a fellow "hacking" victim, I could kinda use your support right now. Youll need me when yer mayor & Im speaker.— Inez Dickens (@SpeakerDickens) August 20, 2013