Par­ody ac­count van­ishes, reap­pears

Windsor Star - - CANADA - Mia rabson

OT­TAWA • A Twit­ter ac­count billing it­self as a par­ody of Iqra Khalid dis­ap­peared briefly but then re­turned Fri­day, its pre­vi­ous tweets deleted, af­ter the Lib­eral MP com­plained about ref­er­ences to her Mus­lim her­itage and claims she sup­ports Sharia law and the Is­lamic State mil­i­tant group. Khalid, who was tar­geted with hate mail and death threats last year over her con­tro­ver­sial mo­tion to con­demn Is­lam­o­pho­bia and sys­temic racism, had asked Twit­ter to in­ves­ti­gate the ac­count. On Thurs­day, the ac­count’s owner ac­knowl­edged a warn­ing from Twit­ter, af­ter which the user­name, Twit­ter han­dle, photo and bi­og­ra­phy were all al­tered in an ap­par­ent at­tempt to hew more closely to the plat­form’s rules for par­ody ac­counts.

The ac­count van­ished from Twit­ter al­to­gether, then resur­faced a few hours later, its ear­lier tweets deleted. The anony­mous user posted a note urg­ing Khalid and main­stream me­dia out­lets to spend the same en­ergy at­tack­ing “white priv­i­lege hate­fests” that they do go­ing af­ter par­ody Twit­ter ac­counts. More than 50 par­ody ac­counts of Lib­eral cab­i­net min­is­ters and MPs have sprouted up in the last few weeks, all of them linked on­line un­der the hash­tag “par­o­dy­cab­i­net.”

The num­ber of ac­counts tar­get­ing govern­ment mem­bers ex­ploded last month when Twit­ter shut down one that veered too close to im­per­son­at­ing En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Cather­ine McKenna.

Khalid, who rep­re­sents a rid­ing in Mis­sis­sauga, Ont., said she didn’t think she would merit a par­ody ac­count, since she’s not in cab­i­net. She’d be fine with it, she said — ex­cept for the fact this par­tic­u­lar ac­count was go­ing too far. “Ev­ery­body has the right to speak their mind, but free­doms come with re­spon­si­bil­ity and when we have the power to speak we should do it with care,” she said in an in­ter­view.

“It’s un­for­tu­nate that they are spread­ing fake news, and sow­ing fear and di­vi­sion.” At least one par­ody ac­count of Immigration Min­is­ter Ahmed Hussen, who is also Mus­lim, fea­tures sim­i­lar sen­ti­ments to the Khalid ac­count.

One post from that ac­count that Khalid took is­sue with in­cluded a photo of a real flyer for an up­com­ing week­end bar­be­cue she’s host­ing as an MP, but de­scribed it as an “anti-Cana­dian pro-Is­lamic Halal BBQ event.”

“I’m not pissed off,” Khalid said. “I just don’t want the con­tin­ual spread of mis­in­for­ma­tion.”

The Khalid ac­count counted more than 1,000 fol­low­ers, al­though at least 50 of them were other par­ody ac­counts. She said these kinds of ac­counts won’t keep her from do­ing her work as an MP.

“This isn’t go­ing to slow me down.”

Twit­ter has sus­pended or elim­i­nated sev­eral other ac­counts that were the sub­ject of com­plaints, in­clud­ing at least two McKenna par­o­dies.

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