Anyone who followed @Lord_Credo, once known in his Twitter bio as the “government Tory communications guy”, was in for a surprise over the weekend when his bogus claim to have a job at the very heart of public affairs was dramatically exposed online.
Credo was well-known on Twitter and had built up 4,400 followers, chatting casually with high-profile figures in both politics and the media, earning himself a ranking in the top 10 “House of Twits” favourite political tweeters.
But his fame was to be brought to a swift end when one of his closest friends, Peter, discovered he, his friends and Credo’s followers had all been duped. The story broke last Friday when Peter posted this.
Offline, Peter knew Credo by the name ‘Mike Paterson’ and became one of a close-knit circle of friends who thought Mike was very “likeable”. Mike told them he was David Cameron’s personal adviser, that he reported directly to the PM and the Chief Whip and had played a pivotal part in Andy Coulson’s departure from office. At first, a few suspected Mike was not telling the truth but to them he seemed convincing.
Peter eventually discovered Mike was not ‘Mike Paterson’ but Michael Gordon Bracci, a Canadian religious fanatic. A shock to anyone, but all the more shocking because Mike, aka Credo, could be found conversing with the likes of @LouiseMensch and @SallyBercow and propping up the bars in Westminster’s watering holes. He had developed a relationship offline with the anonymous @fleetstreetfox and acted, as far as everyone could see, like the real deal.
But in hindsight, the name was a dead giveaway. His followers, of which I count myself, were taken in by his “credentials”. There are a lot of fake political accounts on Twitter, mostly parodies to lampoon public figures, such as the latest arrival: @SteveHiltonGuru. It appears that Mike subverted this accepted form of Twitter impersonation to pretend to be a legitimate civil servant.
Mike has now closed the account and left the country. He has upset those close to him, including those whom he had pricey financial ties to and there can be no doubt for anyone who uses Twitter that it is an influential tool, especially if your reputation carries some weight.
On social media you can be whomever you choose, forgetting age, gender, race, creed or in this case professional status. But as in real life it’s hard to develop a credible relationship with someone if they’re not being completely honest. Whatever influence gained will be negligible and be totally lost if found out.
Which makes me wonder: have you ever lied about yourself online and is there any circumstance in which it could be deemed acceptable?