News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Wednesday October 17th 2018

Twitter gives Zuma something else to worry about

zumaPresident Jacob Zuma, who appears to be taking flak from all sides at the moment, has a new worry in the form of a satirical account in his name on the Twitter social media platform.

The @jacobzuma account was opened in September 2008 but remained dormant until today when its creator unleashed a constant barrage of posts, gathering over 100 followers in less than five hours.

The first active ‘tweet’ was at about 11 am and was directed at the recent business delegation to China. It read: “Back from China. Wish my people were small, yellow and pliant”, followed up shortly afterwards with “What is this strike nonsense. We need a Workers Tribunal. And a wall, a cigarette and a firing squad. Wish I was Chinese (sic)”.

On the @jacobzuma Twitter account profile it has ‘Anywhere I lay my showercap’ under location, and ‘President. Statesman. Father. Borrower.’ under biography.

There is no internet address or any clues to who the owner of the account might be.

Other satirical tweets posted approximately every 20 minutes yesterday poke fun at the president’s response to the ongoing public service strikes, ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, and Helen Zille.

The account follows Julius Malema, Helen Zille, Mail&Guardian editor Nic Dawes, the Daily Maverick and News 24.

The Zuma Twitter feed is only the latest in a growing list of South African and international users who use the internet and social media platforms to mock political figures and corporate companies. South Africa’s very popular satire website, Hayibo.com, is one such example, while the Twitter account @BPGlobalPR is an international example of how public relations can be subverted by online media.

@BPGlobalPR surfaced shortly after the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and has 190, 464 people following it’s barbed comments on BP in particular and multi-national corporations in general.

BP scrambled to try contain the damage to their image being wreaked by @BPGlobalPR by opening their own ‘real’ Twitter account which, ironically, looked fake.

“Satire and parody are very common forms of political comment or protest. People writing under pseudonyms of popular public figures, do so on Twitter, Facebook and the internet,” said Matthew Buckland, social media guru and director of Creative Spark, a tech savvy company based in Cape Town.

Buckland said authentic Twitter accounts can be recognized by a logo and the words ‘verified account’ on the specific Twitter profile. The @jacobzuma account has no such logo, indicating the person behind the account is not the real Jacob Zuma.

But while a fake, satirical account may poke fun at the person or company represented, it is difficult to sue for defamation or damages.

“There are so many legal loopholes,” said Buckland. “Firstly it is difficult to sue over satire, and it’s done anonymously from an international platform.”

Commenting on the account, he said it was “very clever satire”.

“Zuma should get on Twitter and engage with the people.”

Repeated attempts to get a comment from ANC or presidential spokespeople were unsuccessful as their phones went to voicemail and messages were unanswered. – Fadela Slamdien, West Cape News

Tags: twitter, zuma

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One Response to “Twitter gives Zuma something else to worry about”

  1. Monty says:

    Facepalm_coza is another such satirical site featuring a cartoon poking fun at just about everyone.

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