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U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

Photo: Julia Nikhinson / Cover-Images / IMAGO

The well-known US politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez apparently has a problem with a wide-reaching parody account on Twitter. With her team, she is currently considering how she will continue to deal with the issue, wrote the Democratic congresswoman on the platform. First, she advised her followers to be cautious about what they see on Twitter.

The reason for Ocasio-Cortez's statement is an account with around 240,000 followers called @AOCpress, which spreads messages such as "Printing money is the only way out of inflation" and accuses the politician of crushing Twitter CEO Elon Musk. Ocasio-Cortez herself, who has 13.4 million followers, appears on Twitter under the name @AOC.

Accounts that parody celebrities are nothing new on Twitter. What is remarkable, however, is how much Elon Musk's restructuring of the platform makes it easier for users to take a fake account like @AOCpress for granted.

For example, the note "parody" appears in his full username, but only at the very end of "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Press Release (parody)". If you use the Twitter app on your smartphone, you usually don't even get to see this part of the name via the timeline, as this example screenshot shows:

One account with a blue tick, one with a grey tick

Because Twitter's new "For You" timeline flushes up to viral topics, the parody account is currently also displayed to many users who don't even follow it themselves. His messages are thus spread far beyond the classic followership. Messages such as "We should send ten million Americans to fight in Ukraine to make room for the ten million new citizens crossing our southern border."

In addition, @AOCpress has a blue tick. Nowadays, this supposed verification only indicates an ongoing Twitter Blue subscription. Until a few weeks ago, however, a blue tick that looked the same was a clear indication that an account really belonged to a politician, musician or entrepreneur. @AOC, Ocasio-Cortez's real account, was also marked with a blue tick for years. In the meantime, it has become a gray hook, which, according to Twitter, stands for an account from the government environment.

As for parody accounts per se, Twitter under Elon Musk has determined that such accounts are fine as long as they have signal words such as "parody" or "fake" in the account name. From Twitter's point of view, it is presumably not a problem that @AOCpress even uses the same profile picture as @AOC, which promotes confusion between the accounts.

When Ocasio-Cortez warned that a "fake account" was pretending to be for her and going viral, that account allowed itself a quick counterattack: it simply spread the same message as the politician. Thus, the fake Ocasio-Cortez also announced that she was talking to her team about her further course of action with regard to a "fake account".

A side-by-side comparison of both news shows well how similar @AOC and @AOCpress are at first glance:

During a search for the abbreviation AOC, @AOCpress sometimes even appeared in front of Ocasio-Cortez's real account on Wednesday morning:

The boss fuels the confusion

Elon Musk himself seems to enjoy this game with identities. On Monday, he posted a fire emoji under a message from fake Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She had tweeted via @AOCpress: "Maybe it's the wine that speaks out of me, but I have a crush on Elon Musk." According to Twitter's statistics, that tweet has now been viewed 26 million times.

The real Ocasio-Cortez later accused Musk of that reaction in her warning. The Twitter boss had interacted with the "fake account" to increase its visibility, she wrote. She herself apparently blocked @AOCpress, as the parody account triumphantly documented via screenshot, with the comment "I won".

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez belongs to the left wing of the Democratic Party. On Twitter, but also in the US public, she is one of the most popular and controversial politicians who polarize statements and ideas of the 33-year-old, such as the "Green New Deal".

Elon Musk was aware of this potential for dispute long before the current dispute – and he had apparently already tried to use it to make his platform more interesting. In March, for example, it became known that Twitter under Musk apparently maintains an internal list of personalities that the company prefers in terms of account reach. As the newsletter »Platformer« revealed, Ocasio-Cortez was also on it.