Twitter forced to reveal identity of parody Wetherspoon’s account after court order

Dec 18, 2018 | Online advertising, Social media, Twitter marketing

A court has ordered Twitter to reveal the identity of the person behind a set of satirical and "abusive" Wetherspoon accounts.

The UK pub chain brought legal action to unmask the person known online as “Tom from Spoons”, claiming his tweets were “abusive” and misled genuine customers.

“Tom” has been tweeting from a series of fake Wetherspoon accounts since 2014 and has amassed tens of thousands of followers.

The imposter, who Wetherspoon believe is a former employee, mostly responds to other tweeters who are trying to contact the pub chain on Twitter.

One tweet claimed staff would not wear poppies around Remembrance Day “due to the ever-expanding multiculturalism of our clientele”.

A customer who read this and believed it was an actual JD Wetherspoon policy was so irate he came to the annual general meeting of the firm to ask “very heated questions”, the company’s barrister David Hirst told the High Court.

“When they [the mystery tweeter] see somebody tweeting about Wetherspoon, generally they immediately, by using the search, tweet to those people something abusive,” he said.

He said that “Twitter, to their credit, have recognised on each occasion that we have brought it to their attention that it is a breach of their terms”, but pointed out: “It has carried on for four years.”

“This stuff goes around [the internet] like wildfire.”

One of the ‘abusive’ tweets sent by “Tom from Spoons” via their parody account (Twitter).

One recent tweet from the account said: “Good morning job dodgers I suggest you get in here early today because it’s Friday and as soon as we get to 5pm all of those idiots with jobs will be in showing off with their paid for hair cuts and matching shoes and we all know how hard work a w****r is to tolerate when sober.”

Although the bio for the account states it is not associated with the actual chain, people frequently mistake “Tom’s” tweets for genuine JD Wetherspoon output.

One disappointed customer replied: “Poor choice of language for marketing I get it you need traction and want viral tweets but this is bottom feeder type content”.

The situation has become even worse after the real Wetherspoon Twitter account was closed down in April.

At one point the judge, Victoria McCloud, laughed out loud as Mr Hirst read out one tweet from the parody account sent in the morning of England’s World Cup semi-final with Croatia.

“As it is England’s first World Cup semi-final since 1990, it looks like Gareth Southgate won’t be the only one wearing a waistcoat on Waistcoat Wednesday. Anyone wearing a waistcoat in ANY of our pubs will receive one free drink during the England-Croatia match.”

At the hearing on Thursday, the judge ordered Twitter – which did not oppose JD Wetherspoon’s application – disclose information relating to the identity of the operator of the fake account by mid-January.

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