A spoof Twitter account impersonating Wendi Deng Murdoch was verified by Twitter, and taken as real by News Corp's media communications team and members of the public.
The spoof account of the wife of media baron Rupert Murdoch is being seen as a prime example of how people's identities can be misappropriated online, even well-known ones.
Deng famously fought off a custard pie attack on her husband when he appeared in front of a parliamentary committee into phone hacking last summer.
The account has now been "unverified" by Twitter and the account holder has made it clear that it is a spoof account, as with many others on Twitter, ranging from accounts impersonating the queen to football managers Arsene Wenger and Fabio Capello.
The Wendi Deng account appeared after her husband Rupert made headlines in joining the twitterati over the New Year holiday. The fake account already has around 9,500 followers and is now rapidly growing following the publicity. Perhaps similar to Wendi Deng though, who keenly follows no one but her husband, the fake Deng is only following a small number of people in the twittersphere.
Before the Deng account was acknowledged as fake, News International spokespeople had confirmed the authenticity of both the genuine Rupert and Wendi accounts in the media, in response to enquiries.
The holder of the fake account said: "You have to worry about the management of News International and Twitter if they can both readily confirm, for a while at least, that this was the account of a very noted personality."
Other social networking sites like Facebook and Google+ require their members to use real names, but Twitter allows pseudonyms and spoof accounts when they are flagged.
Twitter wouldn't comment on its verification process. A Twitter spokesperson said: "We can confirm that the @wendi_deng account was mistakenly verified for a short period of time. We apologise for the confusion this caused."
Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at security software firm Sophos, said: "Clearly someone has been sloppy. Although no harm was done, it's possible to imagine how someone with more malicious intentions could have taken advantage of the situation."
Photo Credit: David Shankbone
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