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Updated: "MP" tweets "election in weeks" then deletes Twitter account. Fake or real?

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[Note: See updates below] Why would someone create a Twitter account for a UK MP which was fake, say the next general is “in weeks”, but then delete the account? Was it a real account or a fake one created out of mischief? Just such questions are buzzing through Twitter right now because an account which looked very much like it was the official one for Nick Brown MP (@nickbrownmp) tweeted, in reply to Austin Mitchell, this morning:

Shortly after that the account was deleted.

Luckily there is Twitter search, plus plenty of people have been watching and the observant @andrewgerrard grabbed the image above.

If this is “real” – and the fact that the account has now been deleted suggest it is – then Nick Brown, known to be close to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, knows that there will be a UK general election this Summer. And he just sent a Tweet which was meant to be a private direct message. Stay tuned, this story is breaking…

(Hat tip to AlbertoNardelli and Tweetminster for the tip)

Update 1: Ironically enough I had to go offline to speak at the Media 140 conference in London this afternoon and have not been able to get back on this story (which I am now doing). So, Sky News’ Political blogger Cheryl Smith appears to have called Nick Brown’s office and they say the @nickbrownmp was fake.

  • http://www.travolution.co.uk Kevin May

    Nick Brown is not only “known to be close to Gordon Brown”, but is also the Labour Party’s chief whip in the House of Commons.

  • Thomas M

    Interesting. This would put an election being publicly called around mid-july which is a reasonable time frame.

    Still, the actual tweet is probably a hoax.

  • http://www.bartonconsulting.co.uk Simon Leyland

    Gordon’s already called and then postponed one general election. He could easily postpone another one.

  • Andrew Gerrard

    Props to @torybear who has a grab of the original tweet: http://www.torybear.com/2009/05/woops.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Conor_Ogle/809340651 Conor Ogle

    At what point will Twitter be considered sufficiently robust/secure to be used for this type of communication anyway (whether or not this is a real)?

  • http://www.estatecreate.com Henry Yates

    If that was real great scoop, otherwise nice prank

  • http://ewan.to Ewan

    MP Creates account
    MP Immediately sends 1 controversial message to another (verified) MP
    MP Deletes account

    Does that sound remotely plausible to anyone?

  • Ben Seven

    Brand new account, first ever tweet, happens to be a ‘leak’. Not even MPs are that stupid – this was a total hoax.

    I e-mailed from the office of MP Nick Brown – as expected, the said the Twitter account was not him and had now been removed. Funny that.

    Why this becomes news on any kind of scale when it’s so easy (and common) to impersonate celebrities and politicians online and this was in no way verified is beyond me. Techcrunch bothering to report this non-story is more ridiculous than the story itself.

    • http://uk.techcrunch.com Mike Butcher

      I think it’s our job to draw attention to this kind of thing. This is part of what blogging is about, especially in terms of creating rolling news in a fashion not dissimilar to TV News channels. Because we can (and will) update this story we can create context and breaking information. Like I said, stay tuned.

  • Having A Laugh

    Can confirm it was a prank. Trying to fish for chatter about election date and it got noticed.

    Shows the disadvantage of not checking with sources first.

    Please RT to stop this nonsense.

  • http://uk.techcrunch.com Mike Butcher

    Update 1: Ironically enough I had to go offline to speak at the Media 140 conference in London this afternoon (a conference about Twitter!) and have not been able to get back on this story (which I am now doing). So, Sky News’ Political blogger Cheryl Smith appears to have called Nick Brown’s office and they say the @nickbrownmp was fake.

  • Sam

    yeah this is def the downside of new media – any idiot can publish anything and people will believe it or waste their lives trying to decide whether to believe it. great.

  • http://www.ukstevieb.com/2009/05/21/steviebs-shared-items-may-21-2009-2/ StevieB’s Shared Items - May 21, 2009 at Lost in Cyberspace

    […] Updated: “MP” tweets “election in weeks” then deletes Twitter account. Fake or real?May 20, 2009 […]

  • http://netthoder.wordpress.com/2009/05/24/netthode-pa-twitter-konferanse-i-london/ Netthode på Twitter konferanse i London « NONA: nettverket for oss som jobber med nettmedier

    […] er ikke nødvendigvis der du vil finne all verifiseringen og faktasjekkingen, svarte Butcher. Og i denne konkrete saken viste det seg å være fatalt. Nick Browns kontor avviste nemlig i etterkant å ha noe som helst med nevnte Twitter-konto og […]

  • http://www.cyber-junk.de/kommentiert/keine-werbung-der-twitterway/ Keine Werbung - Der TwitterWay | Banedon's Cyber-Junk

    […] politische Fake Accounts annehmen können zeigt ein Beispiel aus Großbritannien über das Sky und TechCrunch berichteten. Der Inhaber eines Markenrechtes – und sei es nur der eigene Name – hat mit Sicherheit […]

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