Which of these is the actual Twitter page for the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
I hope most of my readers are good enough internet sleuths to be able to tell that the second is the real one. It has considerably more followers. Its Twitter handle (the @ name) is authentic. And it includes the blue check mark of a “verified” account.
But in an everyday conversation, without seeing the entire page in front of you, it might be more difficult. And for someone who is just looking into the church and may not be as savvy on Twitter, this could create genuine confusion.
The fake account includes the description “President and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ” rather than describing itself as a parody account. And often speaks in first person, such as “I cannot and will not lead you astray,” while later tweeting about sexual rendezvous to the genuine account for Elder David Bednar.
The account is run by John O’Conner, a former member of the Church. Though the account dates to 2010, it appears to have only begun impersonating Russell M. Nelson in May of 2018. The account often mocks the Church’s doctrine and practices while portraying President Nelson as hyper-sexualized and confused.
Twitter’s policy on this subject is strong and reasonable. Accounts cannot impersonate other individuals unless it is a parody account.
Parody accounts must:
- Clearly state it is not affiliated with the similarly named individual
- Not impersonate the person in a deceptive or misleading manner
- The account name cannot be exactly the same as the person being parodied (this is not the @ Twitter handle, but the name which is featured most prominently)
O’Conner’s account meets none of the Twitter guidelines for a parody account. And has been violating those policies for 8 months, three-quarters of President Nelson’s tenure as church president.
While the parody account has been reported for violating Twitter’s rules multiple times it continues to confuse Twitter users.
While Latter-day Saints must endure mockery on Twitter, even pretty vulgar mockery like this account creates, we should not put up with attempts to confuse investigators, new members, returning members, and those who are not social-media savvy.
Do the right thing Twitter. Make John O’Conner change his account name to “Fake Russell M. Nelson.” It will take him 90 seconds and create a less confusing environment.
Update: Thank you, everyone, for the support. We were able to get the name changed! Congratulations guys!