Qantas has ruffled the feathers of the Twitterverse again, this time by shutting down a popular account that was masquerading as the airline’s PR team.
According to The Australian, Qantas successfully approached Twitter to have parody account @QantasPR suspended for breaching Twitter’s impersonation policy.
In pulling rank however, Qantas, who’ve been the subject of social media hiccups in recent months, raised the ire of followers of the account.
The criticisms quickly spread on Twitter last week, with the microblogging service’s users accusing Qantas of trying to ban humour and taking them for fools that can’t distinguish parody accounts from real accounts.
A Qantas spokesperson told The Australian that the account, which described itself as the ‘non-official, official broadcast channel for Australia’s national airline’, was confusing customers who were mistaking it for the genuine article.
It was closed down, “essentially because we believe it was misleading and deceiving to the true identity of Qantas,” the spokesperson said.
“There were people that were tweeting the fake Qantas account and obviously thought it was endorsed by Qantas.
“The account used our logo and we had legal advice about shutting it down because they didn’t specify clearly enough that it was a parody account.”
Following the closure of the account, its owner uploaded a letter to Twitter stating it hadn’t acted outside of parody account rules and was clearly labelled as non-official in its bio.
The account has since been reactivated under the new moniker @Qantas_PR and has begun tweeting similar material to the old account. After Qantas’ job loss announcement last week, it tweeted: “Don’t look at the 1400 redundancies as losses, but rather as new #qantas customers. All that free time means ex-staff can fly more.”
Dr Mark Rolfe, a lecturer in political satire at the University of New South Wales, told The Australian that in certain circumstances corporations may be best advised “to let these things go because to try and squash them may in fact elicit more publicity and reaction than they wanted.”
“The line between reality and satire is often blurred but people are used to parodies of all sorts of consumer goods and there is no reason why they can’t tell the difference in their situation,” he said.