Are parody Twitter accounts ‘fake news’? Liberals, Conservatives disagree

OTTAWA — Liberal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says parody social media accounts that deliberately try to mislead readers are a form of identity theft that need to be addressed.

McKenna herself was targeted by a parody account that was shut down Tuesday by Twitter after the government complained, only to spring up again just hours later with a slightly different name and handle.

The account uses the same photo from McKenna’s own personal Twitter account, and while its biography does say it’s a parody, something about it was deemed a violation of Twitter’s policy about not impersonating others online.

A Twitter official says the company does not comment on specific accounts, but notes the user of the account would have been told why the account was closed.

Conservative MPs and pundits, however, say parody accounts should not be shut down simply because the government doesn’t like what they say.

They point to a number of parody accounts about Conservatives — including one dubbed “Not Steve Harper,” online since 2009 — and say they should not be treated as so-called “fake news.”

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