Boris backtracks over Twitter account 'hijacking'

Boris backtracks over Twitter account 'hijacking'

Summary: London mayor Boris Johnson has returned the official mayoral Twitter account to its original status, after briefly reappropriating it for his own reelection campaign.Johnson caused an outcry on Tuesday when he renamed the @MayorofLondon Twitter account to @BorisJohnson, while also changing the link in the profile from one that pointed to City Hall's website to one that directed users to his campaign site.

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TOPICS: Telcos
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London mayor Boris Johnson has returned the official mayoral Twitter account to its original status, after briefly reappropriating it for his own reelection campaign.

Johnson caused an outcry on Tuesday when he renamed the @MayorofLondon Twitter account to @BorisJohnson, while also changing the link in the profile from one that pointed to City Hall's website to one that directed users to his campaign site. The account has more than 250,000 followers.

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has switched the official Mayor of London Twitter account back to its original status after briefly appropriating it for his election campaign. Photo credit: Natalia Mikhaylova/Shutterstock.com

"Basically, taxpayers' money has been spent to build up and maintain a feed that Boris has now hijacked," a member of rival candidate Ken Livingstone's team told The Guardian. "To compare like with like, the No 10 Twitter feed was set up under Gordon Brown but has stayed as an official feed since Cameron took over."

Johnson's team initially defended the change, saying that "Boris has been completely transparent about changing the Twitter name" and arguing that he has always controlled the account. However, early on Wednesday, the account once again bore the name @MayorofLondon, albeit without any link in the profile this time.

In a revised statement, the team said Johnson had been "determined to ensure there was no confusion between him as Mayor and him as a candidate and therefore changed the name of his Twitter account".

"He did not expect this openness and honesty to have created such hysteria," the statement read. "So in case there is even one Londoner who has a problem with what he did, he will not use that account for the campaign and instead can be followed from the political front on @BackBoris2012."

The episode was not the first to highlight the blurry lines that sometime exist between personal and official control of employees' social media accounts.

Last year, the journalist Laura Kuenssberg caused a stir when she left the BBC for rival broadcaster ITV, changing the name of her Twitter account from @BBCLauraK to @ITVLauraK as she went, and taking almost 60,000 followers with her.

Meanwhile, the tech blog PhoneDog is currently suing ex-reviewer Noah Kravitz because he took his PhoneDog Twitter account and its 17,000 followers with him when he moved to another employer, changing the name and password as he went.

Topic: Telcos

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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