I was lucky enough to get tickets to the taping of The Colbert Report last night and was pleased to find they covered stories we had also covered here on SEW - namely International Women's Day and Charlie Sheen's plan to make money via Twitter. The episode also covers an interview with Dan Sinker, author of fake Twitter account @MayorEmanuel who successfully turned satire into cash for a good cause.
The segment on Charlie Sheen and celebrity product endorsements on Twitter is worth a giggle. Stephen Colbert suggests that Sheen is endorsing Naked Juice and DirecTV based on his twitpics, and jokes that he is endorsing Lithium too.
However, the surprise interview with fake Twitter @mayoremanuel account creator, Dan Sinker, was a particular treat and testament to the creative and satirical opportunities afforded by Twitter.
Dan Sinker originally created the account as a creative outlet and as a project to make friends laugh, but garnered over a thousand followers overnight. Now, his imposter account of the real Rahm Emanuel has 30k more followers than the original. Sinker enjoyed tweeting this alter-ego so much that the account took a literary life of it's own and became a unique and entertaining work of fiction, about four characters Rahm Emanuel, Axelrod (his best friend), Carl the Intern, a dog called Hambone and a duck called Quaxelrod - who ultimately slip into a time vortex in which their are multiple parallel dimensions of the city of Chicago.
What is cool is that the real Rahm Emanuel found the fake account to be genuinely entertaining and did not request to shut it down. Instead, he met with Sinker in person and donated $5k dollars to the charity of his choice - which was matched by a number of other companies such as Causes.com to generate a total donation of $12k for Young Chicago Authors.
What is particularly noteworthy about the fake Twitter account phenomenon is that this new breed of information network is making the social layers that differentiate groups of people more permeable. Whilst social networks may erode privacy, living publicly can have it's unexpected benefits too such that, contrary to expectations, creating a fake Twitter account might even get you the attention of celebrities and causes you are parodying.
So perhaps faking stuff on the internet is not always automatically a bad thing? Rule of thumb - don't mislead users but simply be creative and funny.
Incidentally, a fake account of Charlie Sheen, spelt with an extra E (@charlieesheen) was suspended overnight.
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