It seems someone working for London’s Department of Transport is being careless with the First Amendment.
A new account on Twitter that’s calling out the “failure of Britain’s infrastructure and planning” has caused a bit of a stir. The originators used the widely shared meme, the “LOOK WHAT WE’VE GOT NOW,” as inspiration.
In the tweet, a town with a purple inflatable that has “no business being there,” and various other infrastructure-related issues are listed.
Look what we’ve got now…
A spokesperson for the London department, Victoria Thomas, says the department “did not endorse or support the parody account and do not approve of it in any way. When this social media account which is clearly fake was flagged by various stakeholders, the relevant departmental officers took the time to investigate before making enquiries with the offending Twitter account to determine whether the accounts were in fact fake.”
“As the investigation was still ongoing when the account was subsequently deleted, it’s for the complainant to clarify what was acceptable satire within the context of public life.”
They added that the department would be “looking into the authenticity of the account and the original social media profile which was suspended.”
Other artful bots
Interesting that this did not come from a reputable social media company. The @Skywiseme account is easily found in the Twitter bot feed search. It has “5 hotness”, and is unsurprisingly obsessed with LELO. It also has thousands of followers.
One would presume it had some business dealing with the government.
A spokesperson for the British Transport Police says that “we’re aware of the recent tweets being shared and we’re happy to have a look at the account.”
“It is important to protect the freedom of speech and freedom of the press on social media and this can sometimes lead to inappropriate commentary. We will take action against any potentially malicious or threatening messages sent.”
They say that a “suspect” account may be working with police if the user posts, “feigned threats, blackmail messages, fake accounts or coded language.”
Airplane Hacking Agency in a denial of responsibility
Another entity with a Twitter account in question has jumped in to discuss the tweet, saying that it “has no involvement in the pictures and the whole scenario is something from another sphere. I don’t think they are going to prosecute.”
The spokesperson goes on to say, “I have a tendency to say the unthinkable sometimes but I don’t know if the government in some way will catch up with this one in case it was a parody account and it was all fake.”
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police, a government agency, weighed in, saying that “at the moment we do not have any criminal enquires in relation to this. Any social media account with over 1,000 followers that makes remarks regarding the Metropolitan Police Service, or is circulated by the public about it must meet certain criteria and we are considering the tweet that has been circulating. The public should also note that we are acutely aware of police tactics on social media which are routinely used by the media to expose officers.”
This is not the first time a government social media account has come under fire over tweets like this. In December 2016, an account in China called Sky Leap claimed to be an organization “that fights illegal airplane hacking. The group’s revolutionary work has been honored by the Chinese government,” and the London-based wing of the brand, Sky Wisp, later confirmed that the account belonged to the “Department of Transport.”
Around the same time, a similar fake account claimed to be an official Facebook page for the Royal Opera House in England, and read, “Nothing… can be better than a good old fashioned triumph of lady power.”
This really shows just how much closer our world is to being a Mad Max-esque dystopia. This is what happens when our government isn’t going to pick up the phone.