Monthly Archives: February 2016

Tulsa Parking parody accountIn a nutshell, that’s public service’s Twitter problem. Parody accounts are easy to make and hard to counter. To the credit of the maker of the parody account @Tulsa_Parking, the account is clearly labeled as a satire.  Also, the City of Tulsa picked a response approach that is a little heavy handed and legally questionable, as the seal has been altered by the addition of the poop emoji, among other things. Tulsa Parking is so proud of the response that they pinned it to the top of their account.

The parody twitter account links to a website that carries this warning:

“This is a satire site protected by the 1st Amendment.

We are in no way affiliated with the bloodsucking parasites that are employed by the City of Tulsa

Suck it, nerds.”

The website notes Tulsa Parking’s nomination by The Tulsa Voice for “Best Tulsan to Follow on Social Media,” links to an event announcement on Facebook, and then contains the text of Machiavelli’s The Prince.

Laws on parody accounts generally are evolving and focus on consequences such as actual harm being caused.  A British attempt to close a government parody account was briefly successful but then reversed. India appears to have succeeded in their attempt. Trying to close such accounts in the US raises obvious First Amendment issues. Further, Twitter is littered with government parody accounts and has formal policies on how to create and respond to parody accounts.

Lighten up, City of Tulsa. The account’s popularity is a hint that you can’t intimidate the author, and you also have zero chance of successful prosecution.  Look inward and ask yourself why it has struck a chord — is the attack merited? Twitter is a mechanism for changing government policies, even when politeness is not observed. Otherwise, learn from the experience of others of dealing with trolls. Turn it into an engagement opportunity. See it as a teachable moment.

Of course, if it was an emergency situation and lives were at stake, the advice would be different. But parking? Really.