Since venturing into the world of Twitter three days ago, media mogul Rupert Murdoch has amassed more than 85,000 fans, lavished praise for Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum and deleted a controversial tweet. He seemed to be doing much of it with the help of his wife, Wendi Deng Murdoch, who also appeared to join on the same day.
Only it seems at least one of the accounts was not actually a Murdoch: “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,” a tweet on the Wendi Deng account read Tuesday morning.
The Murdochs seemingly joined Twitter together on New Year’s Eve and quickly made headlines when, within 48 hours of joining the social network, the News Corp. founder sent a controversial tweet from vacation in the Caribbean: “Maybe Brits have too many holidays for broke country!”
The Deng account chastised her husband for the offensive tweet, writing on Twitter: “RUPERT!!! delete tweet!” It seemed the two were working in tandem with Murdoch removing the offending tweet. “U are all ver wonderful for bearing with sometimes bad tweeting from me + @rupertmurdoch!!” Deng wrote soon after.
The ruse got a boost from Twitter, which gave the Murdoch and Deng accounts a blue checkmark on the accounts. The checkmark was introduced by the company as a way to confirm the identity of celebrities and protect against parody accounts. With more media outlets treating Twitter as a source for direct quotes from celebrities, the Wendi Deng parody raised concerns about the verification process.
The anonymous writer behind the Deng account said that she or he was surprised when the blue checkmark appeared next to Deng’s name on the account. “I was as surprised — and even a little alarmed - when I saw the Verified tick appear on the profile.” The account lost its blue checkmark Sunday night, sparking questions from Guardian reporter Josh Halliday.
The account even fooled News Corp. A spokeswoman told BBC and Guardian reporters that the Deng account was real on Sunday, but by Monday, BBC reporter Ross Hawkins wrote on Twitter, “The @Wendi_Deng twitter account is NOT genuine. The News Intl s/person who told me it was last night has just called to say she was wrong.”
The Post reached out to News Corp. and Twitter, but has yet to hear back from them. Twitter posted a message to its PR account saying, “We can confirm that the @wendi_deng account was mistakenly verified for a short period of time and apologize for the confusion this caused.”
The account garnered a huge amount of attention, with media and the Twitter universe dissecting the tweets and looking for clues into the couple’s relationship.
Although many on Twitter wrote complaints about the Deng imposter, one account congratulated it. Jonnie Marbles, the comedian who threw a pie in Murdoch’s face during the News of the World testimonies, wrote “Well done by the way!”
As for Murdoch, some speculate that like many celebrities, he may also not be writing his own tweets. Many celebrities hire ghost writers for their tweets. Whether it’s Murdoch or not, though, the account has gone silent since Monday night. It remains to be seen if his fake wife has scared him off the technology for good.
Below, images of other tweets and Twitter accounts gone wrong: