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The Man, the Legend, the Parody BP Twitter Account

BY Nancy Scola | Monday, September 13 2010

The @BPGlobalPR parody Twitter account was one bright spot in the mess that was this summer's Gulf Coast oil spill, what with its running jokes and often spot-on humor. The Awl's Mat Honan has an interview with Josh Simpson, an LA comedian who Honan seems to have confirmed to his satisfaction as being the lead behind the account. In it, Honan asks Simpson if he was worried that he'd be outed by reporters:

I wasn't that worried. It's very easy to lie to the media. They kind of take you at your word. I got a call at work from Funny or Die's publicist, and she said she had someone at AdAge who wanted to know about the BP Twitter account. “You can give her my email,” I said. “Don't say it's me, but I can point her in the right direction.” [The reporter] emailed me, and I made the mistake of replying to her with my phone number in the email. And she called me. I was on the phone with her and I said “I'm not the one who started it, but I can give you his email.” From then on I just used that email and it was pretty easy.

Weren't we just talking about the challenges of tech reporting? I'd be willing to bet at least a small amount of money that more time was spent tracking down who was the goofy soul behind the fake BP Twitter account than was dedicated to making sense of Haystack's potential security threat to Iranians. Case in point it Honan's own interview: it goes into exhaustive detail about whether the official BP account was hacked, Twitter security settings, the identities of the dozen plus writers Simpson says contributed tweets to the account, and much more. A useful examination, I guess, but also the sort of hook-y Twitter bait that the web seems to have a tremendous appetite for.