Did @BPGlobalPR just run afoul of Twitter's impersonation policy?
Well, it's not clear. BP claims it has not challenged the anonymous account's right to exist. But how, then, to explain the following update from @BPGlobalPR on Tuesday night: "Not sure what we've done wrong, but we've been asked to change our name/profile to indicate that we're 'fake.'"The anonymous author, who has gone by the name Leroy Stick, has entertained thousands (141,325 to be precise) since May by parodying BP's attempts to contain the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
BP spokeswoman Heidi Feick said the company had not asked anyone to change the name or profile of the feed in any way. This answer came after Ms. Feick conferred with colleagues who knew about the feed, because she said she was unaware of the existence of @BPGlobalPR when initially reached. She also said was part of a new communications team brought in to relieve those who had been there for the past few weeks.
"We're fine with the parody sites as long as they don't interfere with the residents of the Gulf and their ability to get in touch with us to get the resources they need at this time," Ms. Feick said.
Twitter's impersonation policy notes that it doesn't "proactively reach out to account holders." The policy reads: "Impersonation is a violation of the Twitter rules and may result in permanent account suspension," though "Twitter users are allowed to create parody, commentary or fan accounts." It provides suggestions of how to distinguish parody from impersonation by including the words "not" or "fake" in the bio, name or username of such accounts. If a company finds its name misused, Twitter asks that company to file a complaint under its trademark policy.
After its intital tweet about changing its name, @BPGlobalPR tweeted: "Wait, wait, wait ... I see the confusion here. We need to clarify what BP stands for ... any ideas?" and launched a hashtag #BPrebrand and invited its many followers to submit what they think "BP" should stand for. So far, tweeters have renamed the company zingers such as Bendover Planet, Bring Papertowels, Broken Promises, Blackened Pelicans and Barely Penitent.
At 8 p.m., BPGlobalPR tweeted: "We at BEYOND POLLUTION Global PR are unhappy to announce yet another $10,000 donation to @healthygulf."