A parody account mocked the dire state of the UK press so successfully Twitter has suspended it

head-in-hand statue and screengrab of parody tweet
Kerry-anne Mendoza

A parody account has mocked the dire state of the UK press so successfully that Twitter has suspended it. The bizarre decision came amid a wave of outcry from UK journalists who found the unflattering portrayal too much to bear. The suspension has only served to highlight the increasing lack of accountability of the UK media. After all, even feudal monarchs tolerated the court jester.

Max Gapes

Maximilian Gapes was a parody Twitter account mercilessly ribbing the centrist pundits of our time. ‘He’ made waves with a satirical tweet about Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson. The tweet reported the claim of an unnamed source that Swinson’s campaign had been so catastrophic she might stand down before the general election. ‘Gapes’ not only poked fun at the former braggadocio of the Lib Dem leader, but also the mainstream press. It’s become commonplace for pundits to cite unnamed sources with the most tenuous claims against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the left in general.

Max Gapes tweet

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Neither group saw the funny side. Instead, they went into a fit of the conniptions, branding the account a purveyor of fake news. And by Thursday 5 December, Twitter suspended the account.

Max Gapes suspended

Double standards

The action led many people to question Twitter’s suspension policy. The platform shut down a parody account satirising fake news, yet leaves in place the accounts of the fake news producing pundits being satirised.

In the past four years, the British press seems to have become increasingly unmoored from reality. Pundits have declared Jeremy Corbyn everything from a communist spy, to an “existential threat” to British Jews. And the Liberal Democrats are also on dodgy ground when it comes to fake news.

The party has misled voters several times during this election. First, it claimed Tory / Labour marginals were actually Lib Dem / Tory marginals in an effort to gain votes. Then, it disguised its own campaign literature as local newspapers. And, most disturbingly, the party was forced to suspend its head of media for faking an email to openDemocracy to prevent the site publishing a scandal-generating story.

While independent media has worked to debunk each piece of fake news, the Twitter accounts of the pundits spreading it remain live. Yet a parody account with 2,000 followers is deemed too dangerous to democracy to exist? Come on.

Featured image via Flickr – Alex Proimos

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