More than 150,000 people get a few chuckles every day from @BPGlobalPR on Twitter, a satirical take on BP and the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster. But BP, the company behind what has been called the biggest ecological disaster in U.S. history, isn't laughing.
BP recently asked that @BPGlobalPR clarify that it was not an official outlet for BP news, according to The New York Times. In response, @BPGlobalPR changed its Twitter bio to read, "We are not associated with Beyond Petroleum, the company that has been destroying the Gulf of Mexico for 51 days."
It's not hard to see why GBP wanted the rogue Twitter account to clarify it was a fake. The account paints a picture of an irresponsible and fun-loving company that has no regard whatsoever for its actions.
Typical @BPGlobalPR tweets include: "The World Ocean Day Movie Marathon continues w/ There Will Be Blood at 9pm, then at midnight and 3am and 6am!" and "Just got 100k followers and our oil is headed to Florida. You know what this means... WE'RE GOING TO DISNEYWORLD!"
Not exactly the message a company wants to be associated with as it continues to work on containing the oil spill at a current total cost of $1.43 billion.
Twitter: a home for satire
Satirical Twitter accounts are nothing new; in fact I put together a collection of fake and funny Twitter accounts last year. Because Twitter has proven to be such a great platform for satire, the site has developed a very clear policy for parody, commentary, and fan accounts. These Tweeters can't use the exact same name as the subject they're parodying and their bio must explicitly state that the account is not associated with the real person, company, or organization.
Leroy Stick speaks
In early June, the person behind @BPGlobalPR published a blog post on streetgiant under the pseudonym Leroy Stick explaining the origins of the Twitter account.
"I started @BPGlobalP because the oil spill had been going on for almost a month and all BP had to offer were bulls--t PR statements. No solutions, no urgency, no sincerity, no nothing. That's why I decided to relate to the public for them," Stick wrote.
Through @BPGlobalPR, Stick is selling BP Cares t-shirts with the proceeds being donated to the Gulf Restoration Network, an organization dedicated to preserving and restoring the natural resources of the Gulf Region. So far @BPGlobalPR has announced $20,000 in donations to GRN.
Connect with Ian on Twitter (@ianpaul).