In what appears to be an unprecedented move, Twitter recently handed over a student’s parody account to administrators at liberal arts college SUNY Geneseo after they complained about some of its tweets.
Twitter later admitted that it made a “mistake” handing over the parody account to administrators and gave it back to the student but then swiftly suspended the account for violating its policy on impersonation.
Isaiah Kelly, the student that operated the parody account, wasn’t warned that his account would be handed over to administrators and only found out when Twitter suddenly informed him the email associated with the account had been changed.
After the administrators had gained access to the account, they changed the profile image to gray and deleted several of its tweets including one tweet that read “lol forgot to pay the electric bill” – a reference to power outages the university was experiencing at the time.
The administrators also created a “Monitor” list on the parody account which Kelly says they later admitted to creating and adding to the parody account by mistake.
The list is made up of tweets from Kelly and the administrators seem to have created the list to monitor Kelly’s tweets from one of their other accounts.
Kelly described the creation of the list as “creepy” and was shocked by the sudden handover of the account to administrators.
“No one thinks “lol forgot to pay the power bill” IS ACTUALLY GENESEO,” Kelly tweeted.
Other students also slammed the actions of the SUNY Geneseo administrators and suggested that they should have been focused on the power outages rather than going after a parody account.
The university then responded to the incident by insisting that it has a sense of humor: “Contrary to popular belief, we have a sense of humor (remember the time we taped a banana to the wall in the union and posted it on Instagram?).”
It then went on to claim that Twitter turned over the parody account to university administrators after determining that the account violated Twitter’s policy on account impersonation.
The university added that it had removed tweets from the parody account because “they were being confused with official communications” and said that “mimicking official statements could put the health and safety of our community at risk.”
In a follow-up thread, Kelly said that “deleting the tweets in my opinion was definitely a step too far” and added that “Geneseo needs better communication with their students” because the administrators didn’t get in touch with him after taking over the account and deleting some of its tweets.
Other students were also critical of the university’s response and the way it cited the taping of a banana to a wall in an attempt to defend itself.
In yet another bizarre turn of events, Twitter admitted that it had made a “mistake” and gave the parody account back to Kelly butthen suspended it for violating Twitter’s policy on impersonation.
Kelly has requested transcripts of the chat between Twitter and university administrators which led to his parody account being handed over to them but hasn’t yet received them.
Twitter said it’s investigating what happened and that the university shouldn’t have been given access to the parody account.