A couple weeks ago, “Mike Huether” followed me on Twitter. Interesting, I thought—the putative statewide candidate is upping his social media presence. And interesting, I thought, that the Mayor of Sioux Falls hadn’t opened this channel sooner to connect with his constituents.
I didn’t hit “Follow,” in part because I didn’t see any content of substance in the early tweets, and in part because I still feel a little queasy about using the verb “Follow” to describe my relationship with certain objectionable candidates. (That’s not an absolute personal rule; that feeling arises only for noteworthy cases of distaste.)
A week of so late, “Mike Huether” tweeted to me specifically, making some snide comment about the Legislature’s arrogance. “Huether” also misspelled something. I found neither the snideness nor the misspelling characteristic of the detail-oriented, image-conscious mayor.
Of course, “Mike Huether” wasn’t really the mayor. It was a parody account. When the account launched, it identified itself simply as “Mayor of Sioux Falls.” That impersonation of Mayor Huether violates Twitter’s Impersonation Rule. Twitter allows parody accounts, but parody accounts must be clearly identified as such. “Mike Huether” didn’t add “not really” to its description until several days of tweeting.
The faker submitted this excuse for its behavior:
The intent of the account is mainly to have fun….As for other purposes, hopefully it teaches elected officials to lock down accounts with their names sooner. The mayor has a habit of being closed off from the public and not transparent so I’m just trying to add some fake transparency for him. If he promises to start answering peoples (medias) questions more often, I’d be willing to give him the account [anonymous statement to KDLT, in Jack Eble, “City Battles Fake Mayor Huether Twitter Account,” KDLT, 2017.02.18].
Just checking, public figures: how many domain names and social media accounts with your name have you locked down?
The failure of Mayor Huether to invest time and money in securing every possible iteration of his name in cyberspace does not excuse identity theft. I may be unwise not to lock my door, but you still shouldn’t come in my house and steal my cookies.
Twitter has suspended the fake Huether account. I have no love for the self-serving, anti-transparency mayor. But I have no time for anonymous fakers.