Nice scoop from Mat Honan for The Awl.
This was a fun article to read because it discussed all sorts of detail about the fake BP PR group on Twitter. How labeling it directly as a parody actually increased its popularity. How Roger Ebert was responsible for its first big notice. How afraid they were of BP getting too angry and trying to shut them down – which never materialized. How they raised money for charity.
But it was this exchange that I really loved:
Awl: You were the first to follow the BPGlobalPR account, which almost got you busted by Adweek. Did you have to learn more about being stealthy as you went on? Were you ever worried that you would be exposed?
@BPGlobalPR: It was AdAge. 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.
At Twittercon I had the genius idea to end my speech by running out of the room in a panic. I literally ran out of the room and ran outside to get a cab. The major problem with that plan is that I was wearing a ski mask and it turns out it’s very hard to hail a cab in New York in a ski mask.
One guy, this reporter who was not a very nice guy, chased me out of the building and got a picture of me with my ski mask up, in profile, getting into a cab. He snapped the picture and then he started looking for a cab also. What he didn’t realize is that my cab driver wouldn’t drive me anywhere. He was on break, and also was not thrilled to have a guy in a ski mask in the back of his cab. I was like almost in a shouting match with him, trying to get him to drive me. But I had to exit the cab, and I got behind the reporter and then got in another cab and left.
You know a lot of people in UCB and the comedy world knew, and no one said a thing. A lot of people could have outed me, but nobody did. I kind of expected to be outed at some point, especially because my name was associated with it early on.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: It is easy to lie to the media. So we asked Josh for some proof of his identity. He was able to tell us about a TED appearance long before it happened, but we wanted something more. He responded by sending us a secret message via email, and then repeating the message via a direct message on Twitter from the @BPGlobalPR account. We have reproduced this secret message below.]
“It is very easy to lie to the media” should be on every person’s mind when they read something. Few reporters in the media seem to care at all when it is revealed that they were lied to. They continue to go back to the same people and get lied to again.
The Awl showed how they were able to determine whether the person they interviewed and the actual BPGlobal PR were the same person. That is more vetting than most MSM provide the vast majority of their anonymous sources.