Fake Wendi Deng Twitter Account Not That Funny

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On New Year's Day (a couple of days ago for those of you still shaking off the residual effects of too much grape and grain), Wendi Deng, wife of News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch, decided to ring in the fresh year with another go at this thing called Twitter. This followed the decision of Murdoch himself to stake out a corner of the Twitterscape the previous day, December 31.

hello everyone. trying out twitter again now @rupertmurdoch is on it. showing him great way 2 communicate with people 1 day ago via web · powered by @socialditto

It was actually a verified, which is important these days to pan the real thing out from the plethora of celebrity spoof accounts. She proceeded to post fairly mundane details that you would expect from someone getting a feel for Twitter:

very proud of @rupertmurdoch for getting on twitter. never too old to start!!! 1 day ago via web · powered by @socialditto

a lot of bad things happened in 2011 but i hope in 2012 we can put them all behind us and sail on to a bright future for everyone Wxx 1 day ago via web · powered by @socialditto

dear twitter friends - its wendi with an i. thx 1 day ago via web · powered by @socialditto

Now skip to today, three days later, when the veil was lifted:

We can confirm that the @wendi_deng account was mistakenly verified for a short period of time and apologize for the confusion this caused. 50 minutes ago via web · powered by @socialditto

Whoops! Jokes on you, Twitter. But also everybody else, as it seems legitimate news organizations fell for the ruse as well.

Oops. Seems the Guardian (and News International) were taken in by a fake @Wendi_Deng twitter account... http://t.co/RHKXeNaD Breaking now.. 2 hours ago via web · powered by @socialditto

So how exactly did this happen that Twitter verified an account of a known public person to someone who is not in fact that known public person? Nobody knows just yet, but the BBC asked Twitter about how such a slip-up could occur with their verification process. Twitter responded, "We don't comment on our verification process but can confirm that the @wendi_deng account was mistakenly verified for a short period of time." Nice cryptic answer, Twitter. Further adding to the confusion, Mashable reports that News Corporation even told some media outlets that Deng's account was the real deal. Do we even know who to believe at this point? Nope, but Twitterers taken by the decoy were quick to snark about the fake account:

So, if Wendi Deng can run a verified account when she's actually fake, whit dis that say? Ah still think there's a reek o fish fae Rupert... 14 minutes ago via web · powered by @socialditto

Fake Wendi Deng Murdoch makes mockery of Twitter verified account process http://t.co/sK3B7xc8 #infosec 1 hour ago via twitterfeed · powered by @socialditto

Yup. Unfollowing Wendi Deng now. #boring 2 hours ago via web · powered by @socialditto

Too bad the Wendi Deng twitter account exposed as a fake before she could claim having an affair with Herman Cain. 2 hours ago via web · powered by @socialditto

the most recent tweets from @Wendi_Deng are more interesting than when we thought she was genuinely Murdoch's wife. kudos 1 hour ago via web · powered by @socialditto

Twitter welcomed Rupert Murdoch by allowing someone to impersonate his wife @Wendi_Deng here for 3 days, with a 'verified' account #Oops 1 hour ago via web · powered by @socialditto

Interesting, the account for Rupert Murdoch is still listed as a verified account. However he (or his account handler) hasn't acknowledge the fake Deng account yet. The jokester did finally come clean about the fake account and posted a few acknowledgements today:

Hello Twitter. As News International has finally come to their senses, it's time to confirm that yes, this is a fake account. I'm not Wendi. 3 hours ago via web · powered by @socialditto

To those of you who kept maintaining the account was fake, even after being verified, good on you for being suspicious. 2 hours ago via web · powered by @socialditto

Above all, this was a bit of fun. If you don't think it was, then you'd better ask Twitter to remove every other spoof account too. 2 hours ago via web · powered by @socialditto

But I'm definitely not married to Rupert Murdoch. 2 hours ago via web · powered by @socialditto

So there you have it. The short rise and fall of the fake Wendi Deng Murdoch Twitter account. In memoriam, the fallout from this hoax illuminates two very peculiar facts:

1 - Twitter's verification process is shoddy and was obviously duped. Expect the verification process to get revamped in the near future, but in the meantime we're all left to question whether any of those verified accounts are the real thing or not. What would the world do if that Snooki account turned out to be some bored university undergrad spoofing millions? Would the world be less fun? Or more?

2 - Whoever is behind the Wendi Deng Twitter hoax ignored a really basic rule of fake Twitter accounts: be funny! Seriously, take notes from the fake accounts of Gary Busey, Rahm Emanuel, the sun, Drunk Hulk, or even the Bronx Zoo cobra that escaped last year - be funny with that trouble you're starting. Nothing could be more boring than trying to be normal. Spoof Twitter accounts may very well be a new artform in their very own right and I believe it's the duty of every fake Twitter account holder to uphold the integrity of this form of expression. Make a mess!

With respect to fact #2, this account failed miserably.