UPDATED: @RupertMurdoch Verified, @Wendi_Deng Is a Fake
As of December 31, it seems that Rupert Murdoch has gotten himself a Twitter account, @RupertMurdoch. He has (as of the writing of this post) over 71,000 followers; has expressed support for Rick Santorum; has gotten a Twitter tutorial from no one less than his own wife, @Wendi_Deng.
@RupertMurdoch bears the blue and white check mark that indicates the account is “verified.” His “top spokeswoman,” Teri Everett, answered “oh, yes” when asked if Murdoch was indeed on Twitter, according to the New York Times. Some including CNN’s @PiersMorgan (and former News of the World editor) seem to be going along with the News Corp. chair and CEO’s new presence in the Twittersphere. “Now this is going to be fascinating … welcome to Twitter my old boss @RupertMurdoch,” Morgan tweeted. Highly mindful of the phone hacking scandal that dogged Murdoch’s media empire for much of 2011, the Guardian notes that others such as former deputy prime minister John Prescott welcomed @RupertMurdoch with reference to, indeed, the scandal: “”I’ve left you a Happy New Year message on my voicemail!” tweeted Prescott.
Since starting his tweeting adventures, Murdoch already had a social media scandal, as we noted this morning. In short: He sent an offensive tweet, he then deleted said tweet, but not before people noticed, producing the anti-murdoch hashtag #murdochsdeletedtweets.
@Wendi_Deng (which also has the blue check of Twitter verification) had gotten Rupert to delete the offensive tweet (“RUPERT!!! delete tweet!”) after which she informed @RupertMurdoch “about being careful with humor on line. sometimes it comes out as rude!”
Will the truth out whether the fingers typing tweets for @RupertMurdoch and @Wendi_Deng are actually them? Or is someone(s) having a good laugh at the misinformation she/he/they’re broadcasting to over 70,000 followers, just as whoever was tweeting as the cobra who escaped from the Bronx Zoo did?
Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, whose holdings include a stake in News Corp., did just invest $300 million in Twitter last week.
Perhaps the authenticity of @RupertMurdoch and of the account allegedly belonging to his wife is beside the point. After all, we need to remember who this Tweeter is (is alleged to be), the man who has given us fact-challenged Fox News; the man whose News Corp. is known for publishing ye standard tabloid fare (The New York Post and the now defunct — by his own call — News of the World); the man whose media empire has been sullied by the phone hacking scandal which began with the revelation that NoW staff had hacked the voice mail of a murdered 13-year-old British school girl, Milly Dowler. Could it be possible that someone has covertly gotten hold of @RupertMurdoch and is now impersonating the voice of Murdoch?
Or if @RupertMurdoch does turn out to be the work of Murdoch himself, is this his way of trying to make amends for the phone hacking mess, by offering the world (or at least his 70,000+ followers) his honest, unmediated Tweets?
UPDATE, 10:30 am, January 3, 2011: The @Wendi_Deng Twitter account is a fake. The Verified status on her account was removed on Monday night and @Wendi_Deng has admitted to being an impostor. As The Atlantic Wire notes,
Fake Wendi Deng also raised some questions about News Corp., who reportedly confirmed the authenticity of the account, and Twitter, who verified it. “It might be only a small matter, but you have to worry about the management of News International and Twitter if…” reads another tweet. “…they can both readily confirm, for a while at least, that this was the account of a very noted personality.”
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Photo of reactions on Twitter on the Guardian's website during the Parliamentary hearing when Murdoch got a pie thrown at him by ursonate