We set the @DMReporter account up almost two years ago. In this time we’ve written nearly 6800 tweets and have amassed over 22,000 followers.
In between the tweets we’ve written several articles – some on this blog, others in national publications – calling the Daily Mail sexist, homophobic and racist. We’ve also appeared, in person, at conferences and retold the story of when we assumed the personality of their star writer and used it to raise nearly £25,000 for charity to make the point that she’s an offensive and callous troll.
We’ve also created fake-personas for the rest of their key writing staff…
- Mel Phillips has become a babbling and incoherant shut in due to her fear that everyone around her is a lesbian.
- Simon Heffer writes a column called ‘Simon Heffer’s Laboured Point’ where he expands conspiracy theories through poetic non-sequiturs.
- Peter Hitchens is a biblical tubthumper for whom “a belief in Jesus Christ” is the answer to any question, including “do you want fries with that?”
- and Jan Moir will only write about how every event in world-history is “another nail in the coffin for the legitimacy of gay relationships.”
- We also sacked Richard Littlejohn for not having the decency to try to be a real writer.
We’ve run spin-off accounts using the names of Liz Jones and DM editor Paul Dacre and doctored the Daily Mail frontpages to our own nefarious ends. We’ve convinced several legitimate worldwide news organisations to reprint our fake headlines and have duped many a famous person into outrage. We’ve leaked ‘internal’ memos, created the #dailymailmole who spills insider secrets, documented the mental breakdown of the intern who controls “the office Blackberry” and ran a short series where we faked the minute-by-minute reporting of a police raid on the Mail offices (which ended with Dacre executing a turncoat journalist).
We’ve even heard, through the backchannels of Twitter, that real Mail has changed a headline ahead of time because we accurately guessed it a week before. Oh, and we regularly troll the Daily Mail comments pages (but there’ll be more about that in a few weeks).
So, in conclusion, I don’t think it’s unreasonable or arrogant to claim that we’ve kind of set the benchmark for Twitter satire of the Daily Mail. Aside from an incident early on where they asked us to stop using their logo we’ve never once gotten in any trouble. I’ve always assumed this is because…
1) Like or not Twitter supports the right to parody.
2) In the scheme of things we’re really not that important.
3) No-one believes we’re really the Daily Mail and we’re basically tweeting to the converted.
Which brings us nicely to @UnSteveDorkland – a hilarious fake Twitter feed and fellow Daily Mail satiriser who has the target of Northcliff Media Chief Exec Steve Auckland in his sights. UnSteve abides by the Twitter rules of parody far closer than we do, has far fewer followers and is far less blasé than we are – despite all this, Northcliff have launched legal action against Twitter to reveal the writer of the account.
It’s worth noting that UnSteve makes no direct association with Auckland on his page, has a picture of George Clooney as his avatar and, in case you hadn’t noticed, is an entirely new character. As UnSteve points out himself…
If the CEO of a UK regional media company is prepared to instruct lawyers in California to chase the details of a Twitter account which has a maximum of 150 followers then it’s time to announce we’ve found Kafka’s true heir.
There’s UnSteve’s full statement here, plus a few news items here, here and here. Guido Fawkes has also covered the story (here and here) and is currently helping UnSteve out with a US lawyer.
It’s genuinely hard to fathom what the point of this is. Auckland himself, as backed by the Daily Mail’s tax-loving owner Lord Rothmere, claims it’s to protect employees from harassment when all it’s really done is make Auckland and Northcliff look like fools without a sense of humour.
They want to discover if UnSteve is a Northcliff employee, something he has repeatedly denied, or ascertain if he’s being fed information – all the time implying that UnSteve is actually far far far more accurate in his portrayal of Auckland than any follower would have previously believed.
And this is why I’ve listed our achievements at the top – we’re far far worse than UnSteve, yet we remain untouched. This frivolous attack on the right to parody is nothing to do with employee protection, or defence of character, or even silencing complaints – it’s about the old guard, furious at the indignity of being criticised and refusing to acknowledge that they no-longer hold all the cards. It’s about one man – Steve Auckland – failing on virtually all levels to understand new media, and revealing his true character in the process.
Another reason that we’ve remained untouched is because we’re quite popular. 22,000 followers grants a certain legitimacy and I suspect they went after UnSteve because he was, at the time, a relative unknown. Hilariously his account has now shot up by over 1200 followers. Have these people never heard of the Barbara Streisand Effect?
I imagine what will happen if UnSteve’s identity is revealed is we’ll learn he’s a nobody – just like how we’re nobodies – and Northcliff will claim a victory against whatever internet buzzword he’s learned that week. It will serve no purpose other than to have slightly taken the fun out of a situation.
It also means that another one of us will probably bite the dust. This is wrong, flat out wrong – especially when it’s one of us who eloquent, pointed and purposeful.
Either way, we stand wholeheartedly behind UnSteve and suggest the following – if Twitter do release his identity, then don’t mention it on Twitter, Facebook or any websites. Discuss the ramifications of the case, by all means (of which there are plenty – not least the Orwellian legal issues) but leave UnSteve’s real name out of it. In fact, we’d suggest that you change his name to something more anonymous… something like ‘Steven Auckland’.