Parody accounts are, oddly, one of Twitter’s most distinguishing features. Anyone can have virtually any username on the service, as opposed to Facebook and Google Plus, which require users to display their real names. While fake Twitter accounts are sometimes created in an attempt to deceive, they’re just as often meant to be humorous, and have become a routine reaction to practically every news event, a fact lamented by Alex Pareene in The New Republic. Most fake Twitter accounts are, in fact, unfunny; some are in poor taste, like the fake Tsarnaev brother accounts that emerged almost immediately after the two were identified as suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing. But at their best, they ascend to “the highest cultural rung” of “the making-fun-of-others department,” as Louis Menand wrote of parody in the magazine in 2010. “Part of the enjoyment people take in parody is the enjoyment of feeling intelligent,” Menand noted. “Not everyone gets the joke.” The highly self-selected audience necessary for parody presents itself automatically on Twitter, which allows its users to choose exactly whom to follow.
So why does the unmasking ultimately happen? Buchanan concludes:
Yet Twitter also constantly undermines the parody it creates. The primary currency of social media is fame, and it is fame that drives the authors of popular parody accounts to uncloak themselves, destroying the account in the process. If fame is all the authors of parody accounts care about, as @MayorEmanuel wrote in one of his last tweets, “it’s pretty clear that the party’s over.”