It Could Happen to You: A Look at the Toxically Fake @BPGlobalPR Twitter Account


You probably already heard about the fake @BPGlobalPR Twitter account that was created to criticize the tragic BP oil spill. The account pretends to be an official BP handle, and with a mere 138 tweets, it already has aproximately 85K followers (and it has been listed by 2095 users!) in just a few days.

Of course, the AdAge article and other media have helped spread awareness of the account, but the reason for its speedy rise in followers is mostly due to the severity of BP's oil spill combined with the the cleverness and relevance of the tweets.


Humor goes a long way when it comes to Twitter. Fake accounts like this one are created all the time, but they rarely make much of an impact. We've seen fake Twitter accounts for everything from presidents dictators (ie. @ChavezCandanga_) to Star Wars characters (ie. @DarthVader), but the most effective "fake" Twitter accounts are often parodies (ie. @BogusBogusky, @ChuckNorris_ @Nick_Nolte) or created by actual fans (ie. @PeggyOlson and maybe @BadPeggyOlson). However, @BPGlobalPR is going against BP with intelligence, and dare I say it.. strategy?

I have no idea who is behind this @BPGlobalPR account, but I wouldn't be surprised if another "fake" Twitterer like @michael_bay was doing it.



BP has decided not to go after the rogue account, at least for now, and I applaud this because they have decided to focus on communicating through their real account @BP_America and seem to be doing a very good job there despite the huge challenge they are facing. (Update: The @BP_America account was recently hacked for a short time.)

BP could've easily asked Twitter to suspend the @BPGlobalPR account soon after it was created, as most companies would've done, and as CNN and Megan Fox probably did with @cnnbreaking and @the_megan_fox, respectively. I guess BP could try to reach out to the creator(s) to try to make some peace, but who knows whether much would come out of doing so.



So where does a fake @BPGlobalPR account with a potentially serious, long-term agenda go from here?

Some fakers like @stephentcolbert, with an impressive 96K followers, seem to be trying to profit from their clever tweets through Ad.ly ads. Of course, independent Twitter ad networks are on the way out so @stephentcolbert better have a book something in mind because his ad.ly tweets are not going to keep paying for the broadband connection.



Unless suspended, the @BPGlobalPR account will likely stay open for a long time. And what about spreading itself to other social networks? Well, they seem to have recently opened a fake Facebook Page.

The Facebook Page only has 8 fans at this point, but with several comments (spammy ones) on Mashable's FB posts, I'm sure other people will start to "like" the FB Page.

(Update: Looks like there is a another "BP Global PR" Facebook Page at http://www.facebook.com/BPGlobalPR and that one has 315 fans.)



One thing is for sure: The @BPGlobalPR account will be remembered as one of the most toxic (very sorry for the pun) cases to remember when considering a crisis response plan. It's become quite obvious that every company needs a very integrated approach to PR, customer service, and social marketing so everyone should consider the worst of the worst when it comes to getting prepared. We should also pay close  attention to the way that companies like BP, Nestle, United, Domino's, and others have reacted in difficult times. Learn from those who have been proactive, those who have responded quickly, and those who have extended heartfelt apologies.

More importantly, we should not point a finger at the companies that have failed to respond effectively because as real-time communication becomes the norm and as lurkers become "critics" and "creators"... this could easily happen to any company or person for any kind of problem or crisis. If you think you're immune because of the industry you're in or the history you've had, it's time to let go of your complacency because we live in a brave new social world that can be quickly changed by anyone with an Internet connection.

Copyright © Esteban Contreras. All rights reserved.