Parody account vanishes, reappears
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.