Our View: Parody accounts help audiences consume news

KS Editors

As part of what seems to be an integral part of social media, parody accounts continue to affect how we process our news, a theory that’s highlighted by last week’s Kim Davis controversy.

Davis, a Kentucky county clerk who was arrested for her refusal to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, was recently mocked on Twitter by an account pretending to be the woman sitting next to Davis in a heavily-circulated image of Davis speaking. The account published tweets like, “know an important part of the #KimDavis story we’ve missed @maddow? How nasty it is when she takes her shoes off under the f—-ing desk” or “The best thing about #KimDavis court date tomorrow? I’m taking a f—-ing 90 minute lunch.”

These accounts commonly spring up nearly instantly when major breaking news occurs, and although they’re often comedic in nature, accounts like these also propel public opinion on the topical issues that breaking news creates.

Take for example the account @BigHeadSports, which, through gaining a large number of followers by initially pretending to be NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, now tweets personal commentary and interacts with its users in (sometimes) meaningful debate. The issues range from politics to sports, as the account has tweeted about both Ohio State’s starting quarterback Cardale Jones and how the city of Baltimore is paying Freddie Gray’s family, all in a matter of 24 hours. Even the account’s bio reads, “Sports, politics, music, sports, pop culture, sports and sports critic.”

Twitter openly embraces these accounts through their rules and policies, as it states that “Twitter provides a platform for its users to share and receive a wide range of ideas and content, and we greatly value and respect our users’ right to expression… Users are allowed to create parody, newsfeed, commentary, and fan accounts on Twitter, provided that the accounts follow the requirements below.”

We and Twitter alike understand that the modern news consumer likes to interact to what they read and share their opinions, and due to the secrecy of the accounts, the conversations are easily done. The account users often draw ire and skepticism, but also attract the interest of those who agree with them and hold common viewpoints that they might not have otherwise expressed if their real names were attached.

Whether or not people find the accounts funny, they’re growing undeniably impossible to ignore.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of The Kent Stater editorial board.