Anonymity and The Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Disaster
Quick summary if you haven’t already heard: Leroy Sticks (which is also a pseudonym) created a parody/fake Twitter account, BPGlobalPR, that mocks BP and the way they are handling their response to the oil spill disaster. The account has proven to be a BIG success.
As of Day 52 of the oil spill, @BPGlobalPR currently has 155,000+ followers and appears on 4200+ Twitter lists. As of Day 55, the verified corporate account @BP_America has but a paltry 15,000 followers. Here is a sample of what @BPGlobalPR has to say:
This is what @BP_America is saying
Lately, there has been a lot of talk about anonymity and how its going the way of the dinosaurs due to the increasing popularity of social networking. Situations like the oil spill tend to make me think otherwise and make me realize just how beneficial anonymity can be for everyone.
Admittedly, anonymity is a grey area, as it can be used for right or wrong reasons. However in certain circumstances, it can have positive effects, even in the face of negative situations.
In this case, behind the anonymity of @BPGlobalPR, is 160,000 followers who have real identities, who aren’t anonymous. Many of these people are angry that this disaster has resulted in the loss of innocent lives, lost jobs and an extremely polluted environment. In turn, these followers are spreading the same messages to their own audience.
In retrospect, I don’t think ‘Leroy Sticks’ would have been nearly as successful in getting the attention that he does had he used a real name and real picture. While the content would have been the same, it probably wouldn’t have been as successful compared to what parody and anonymity can achieve.
The anonymity of BPGlobalPR let’s people judge only the content it delivers on Twitter. What is important is what’s being said, and not who is saying it.