Posted in: Technology

Pinterest’s first satire account raises the ire of Mitt Romney’s campaign

mitt

It never, ever, fails. The moment you have some new social network that pokes its head up into the Web someone out there will take the time to setup a fake account of a prominent person and then go all satirical with it.

In this instance the social network was the still in beta-invite only network Pinterest and the target of satire was none other than Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. The account on Pinterest was originally called MittRomneyGOP and in the fashion of Pinterest you could find such items as Pellegrino and expensive caviar pinned to the wall.

Well apparently this didn’t sit too well with the Romney campaign who within 24 hours of finding out about the Pinterest account contacted the company to deal with what they perceived as being a ‘identity’ problem in that the account was very misleading and a request to have the name of the account changed to fakemittromney.

Eric Spiegelman, the humorist behind the fake account, apparently resisted any attempts to agree to the change at which point Pinterest went ahead and made the change anyway, which as Spiegelman pointed out totally destroyed any of the links from before the change.

Here is the email exchange between Eric Spiegelman and Enid Hwang Community Manager for Pinterest about the matter (courtesy of Gawker).

First up the letter to Spiegelman from Pinterest

From: Enid Hwang
Date: Fri, Feb 10, 2012 at 9:51 AM PST
Subject: Pinterest: “MittRomneyGOP” username
To: Eric Spiegelman

Hi Eric,

I’m Enid, the Community Manager at Pinterest. As you might have guessed, I’m writing regarding your username “MittRomneyGOP.” We were recently contacted by officials from Mitt Romney’s campaign because they feel it’s very misleading and they’re requesting that it be changed to “fakemittromney.”

We actually really appreciate political commentary on Pinterest – and I know your account is clearly satirical – but we’re a young company so we don’t have a feature/process in place for “verified accounts” (such as Twitter) which would make the purpose of your account immediately obvious to any user on the site.

If you don’t mind changing your username, let me know. Or, you can just go ahead and make the switch yourself at: https://pinterest.com/settings. We’ve been brainstorming alternatives and unfortunately we feel changing your profile picture or adding a byline on your “bio” section on Pinterest may not be sufficient because that information isn’t included with all pins that propagate through the site.

We’re also really open to discussing the issue more with you, so you can reach me directly at [REDACTED] if you have any questions.

I’m sorry for the trouble and again, don’t hesitate to call if you’re concerned about this!


Enid

community manager . pinterest.com/enid . @pinterest

This is Eric’s reply to that above email

From: Eric Spiegelman
Date: Fri, Feb 10, 2012 at 10:14 AM PST
Subject: Re: Pinterest: “MittRomneyGOP” username
To: Enid Hwang

Hi Enid,

Obviously I understand your concern. And I can imagine as a new company (one that’s really doing a great job), you’d prefer not to have hassles like this. But at the same time, you’re a publishing entity that’s more or less open to the public, and I can’t in good conscience change my parody at the request of the subject of that parody. It should be obvious to the Romney campaign that nobody sees this as official, and that I am exercising my Free Speech rights in making fun of Gov. Romney’s utter tone-deafness when it comes to matters of privilege and class inequality.

That being said, I understand that you are well within your rights to delete my account. But I really hope you choose not to.

You have a wonderful service in Pinterest, and I wish your team all the best, however you proceed with this.

Best,
Eric

Enid’s followup email to Eric

From: Enid Hwang
Date: Fri, Feb 10, 2012 at 10:24 AM PST
Subject: Re: Pinterest: “MittRomneyGOP” username
To: Eric Spiegelman

Hi Eric,

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly: We have no intention of deleting your account. It’s satire and it should stay! We’ll change the username (this doesn’t affect your boards, pins, or anything else about your profile settings) and we feel that’s sufficient. Once we institute verified accounts this, and any future issues, will be taken care of universally. That’s our responsibility so sorry again for having you caught in the middle of it.

I really appreciate your note (and compliments!) and thanks so much for your understanding,

Enid

And Eric’s final email back before Pinterest went ahead and changed the account name anyway.

From: Eric Spiegelman
Date: Fri, Feb 10, 2012 at 10:40 AM PST
Subject: Re: Pinterest: “MittRomneyGOP” username
To: Enid Hwang

No, I mean, I’d prefer you don’t change my username either.

I have a sneaking feeling this might not be done with yet but we’ll see.

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