BP Demands Twitter Gadfly More Clearly Label Itself as Parody

@BPGlobalPR Says It's Not Associated With Company 'Destroying the Gulf of Mexico for 50 Days'

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- BP hasn't asked Twitter to shut down @PBGlobalPR, but it did request that the user behind the fake corporate messages comply with Twitter's terms of service and more clearly itself as parody.

Last night the bio of @BPGlobalPR was changed to: "We are not associated with Beyond Petroleum, the company that has been destroying the Gulf of Mexico for 50 days."

Previously, the bio line for the feed was: "This page exists to get BP's message and mission statement out into the Twitterverse."

This was after the feed's creator, who goes by the pseudonym Leroy Stick, tweeted this message yesterday afternoon: "Not sure what we've done wrong, but we've been asked to change our name/profile to indicate that we're 'fake.'"

BP has said it will not attempt to shut down the feed, but representatives of the company did reach out to Twitter to demand the micro-blogging site comply with Twitter's impersonation policy, which specifies that parody accounts are permitted as long as they are clearly labeled as such.

"BP requested that the account holder be asked to comply with Twitter's guidelines regarding parody," Twitter said, in a statement, and then suggested ways for Mr. Stick to continue to operate the account within the guidelines. When asked who requested the change, Mr. Stick responded with one word via e-mail: "Twitter."

Later, Mr. Stick said this will be the last change he will make to appease BP. "The changes we have made are the only changes we are willing to make," he wrote. "They're going to have to shut us down if they have a problem."

BP spokeswoman Heidi Feick said the company had not asked anyone to change the feed, but that answer came after Ms. Feick conferred with colleagues who knew about it, because she said she was unaware of the existence of @BPGlobalPR when initially reached.

She also said she 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 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 initial 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 with zingers such as Bendover Planet, Bring Papertowels, Broken Promises, Blackened Pelicans and Barely Penitent.

At 8 p.m. yesterday, BPGlobalPR tweeted: "We at BEYOND POLLUTION Global PR are unhappy to announce yet another $10,000 donation to @healthygulf."

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