It’s an offbeat feeling when you see how many people are willing to keep parody accounts going on Twitter when there’s clearly no money to be made. Or have we been barking up the wrong tree and there’s some kind of secret money funnel to operating parody accounts that range from the anthropomorphic to long departed notables? There’s no denying that seeing parodies of everything from the Obama Chair to Pharrell’s hat adds a comedic luster to Twitter that otherwise relies too much on randomness.
The people who take on those parody accounts have some seriously good satiric skills that could easily be funneled into something useful. As far as we know, they may be working writers at places like “Colbert Report” or “Saturday Night Live” who operate incognito on the side. Some friends of mine have even made accusations that I’m behind some of them, when I’d never bother based on having trouble keeping up my own Twitter account.
So what’s the real motivation behind those Twitter parody accounts? Before we go there, you should know some of the rules behind them that Twitter keeps behind the curtain. Yes, trademarks are involved. It could ultimately mean some serious legal dealings behind closed doors once the parody account atmosphere gets a little too crowded.
What are the Rules of Parody Accounts?
Twitter has a help center when it comes to parody and fan accounts that users seldom read. If you go there, you’ll discover there’s a list of requirements for parody accounts that can easily mean an account shutdown if not read carefully. It’s really not complicated to remember to not create an avatar that’s in violation of a trademarked image or image of a person. Also, the account name has to be something different from the original person so it’s clearly not real. The same goes for the bio in indicating a parody account.
If you look at the most popular parody account bios, almost all of them explicitly mention that they’re parody accounts. And in some minds, that might take a little bit away from the parody aspect when the tweets should be clear enough. Regardless, you can’t underestimate how many people out there are easily offended or take things too literally and seriously.
One thing Twitter takes very seriously is the trademark aspect. They give people a page where they can file a complaint about a parody account if they feel it’s violating a trademark. You get a feeling, though, there’s numerous parody accounts in existence that possibly tread the line of trademark infringement without anybody realizing it.
Will there be a stronger awareness of parody accounts in the future where heirs of the parodied person (or thing), starts taking more legal action? With parody accounts coming close to equaling the amount of real accounts on Twitter, it’s going to be a crowded creative world for those parodists. When that happens, more legal problems are going to be inevitable. Twitter at least gives those violators warnings to comply before taking any drastic actions.
But, ultimately, why do those parodists keep doing what they do? Apparently it’s all about the retweets or media attention they get that’s enough, even if real credit can’t be given. Someday, perhaps we’ll find out they’re all run by one or two financially comfortable people who seem to have nothing else to do except use Twitter as a plaything.
For even the average person, using Twitter as a playground may be the true meaning of life.