Goodbye, SarahPalinU5A

Update: The original author of @SarahPalinU5A moved to the new Twitter address, @SarrahPalinU5A and is active again, and doing the same brilliant posts I gush about below. I’d like to take credit for bringing him/her/them back with this blog, but I’m just not that egotistical. 🙂

Shame on Twitter for removing the account @SarahPalinu5a – which is not to be confused with @SarahPalinusa. @SarahPalinu5a was a spoof of the actual Sarah Palin twitter account @SarahPalinusa. It parodied posts made by our favorite losing Vice Presidential candidate turned failed Alaska governor.

@SarahPalinu5a was the most brilliant kind of parody available on Twitter, where few are who they actually say they are. One would have thought that the actual Sarah Palin account’s “Verified Account” status would have been enough to let people know the difference between the real thing and the parodies. After all, if SarahPalinu5a didn’t say, “Verified Account,” then obviously anyone who got there should be able to figure out it wasn’t actually Sarah Palin.

Which leads into the first reason the profile may have been pulled, that Twitter doesn’t want someone pretending to be someone else. I find that hard to swallow, given the number of “fake” personality profiles. Surely no one actually believes Betty Draper, a fictional character on the show, “Mad Men,” is really posting tweets. People are capable of reading content and discerning whether or not something is from the actual person.

I doubt anyone thought these posts were actually from Palin:

“I’m so heartbroken about this spill in the gulf situation. All those animals. They’re polluting our oil.”

“Some days I just wanna stay in bed and play with my boobs.”

“The liberal media wants us to believe a volcano in Iceland is disrupting air travel. Everyone knows Iceland is too cold for volcanoes.”

“Keep fighting the good fight [insert republican candidate]. Don’t let [insert democratic opponent] win the election in [insert November]!”

The complete brilliance of SarahPalinu5a can still be found here.

My hope is that this is the result of an overly aggressive protection from parody on Twitter’s part – but I have a feeling the cause was much more sinister.

Because the other possibility is that the Palin camp caught wind of what was going on, and moved to squash it. I don’t doubt enough lawyers making enough phone calls threatening lawsuits could get a site like Twitter to buckle under and do what they’re told.

I really hope that isn’t the case. I don’t know which would make me feel worse: That Palin has a legal hit squad out to make sure no one tarnishes her name worse than she does herself, or that Twitter would give in to anyone making this kind of threat. I won’t go into how Larry Flint got the Supreme Court to rule on just this sort of thing, because as I say, I don’t know that things went down this way.

But if they did, it’s a stark reminder of how little ownership we have over what we do on social media sites.

Which shouldn’t surprise us either. We are involved in an agreement with sites like Twitter: We’ll provide you with our content, you provide us with your network of potential readers.

If social sites start buckling under to pressure from wealthy and powerful users who just can’t take it, though, they should be abandoned. I emplore whomever actually wrote the @SarahPalinu5a account to continue writing those posts, but using some other site – Facebook seems an obvious second choice, though even Jaiku or identi.ca would work. It isn’t about the network for you, @SarahPalinu5a, it’s about your content. That would be the draw.

Hell, I’d gladly start using my Plurk account if it meant I could read those posts again.

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