If you don't know what Twitter is, then you aren't paying attention. The oddly simple Web-based messaging service has grown to such an extent that you can't go more than a day without hearing the words Twitter or tweet at least a few times. The basis of Twitter is the ability to send out short messages (140-character limit) to lots of people at once. These messages are generally sent via cell phone to whoever is "following" you, but can also be sent from your computer. "Following" means that you've signed up for a free Twitter account and selected another account you want to keep up with.
So how much has Twitter grown? How about more than 1,300 percent year-over-year? In February 2008, Twitter had 475,000 members twittering away at each other. A year later, there were more than 7 million [source: nielson.com]. Once the early adopters were firmly entrenched, celebrities quickly jumped on the Twitter wagon, finding it a good way to stay in touch with fans and message out information instantly without the need for a publicist or traditional media outlet.
But along with the real celebrities have come a slew of imposters to confuse and amuse. Why would someone want to pose as a celebrity? Most likely just for laughs, but some celebs don't have a sense of humor about it. Actor Ewan McGregor's fake Twitter account had nearly 20,000 followers in March 2009. Fans were treated to very believable tweets about McGregor's day-to-day activities like what he ate for breakfast and what film projects he was excited about. Unfortunately, it was all a fake, and the actor had the account shut down.
Phony accounts are possible because Twitter doesn't currently verify the identity of its users. The result of this decision has brought about some very fake and sometimes very funny imposters.
Hollywood director Michael Bay is known for his over-the-top action movies, but not so much for being an auteur. From "The Rock" and "Armageddon" to "Transformers," Bay has carved out a niche as a big-money director who's more interested in explosions than character development and plot. His persona as a womanizing party animal has led to a lot of good-natured derision over the years. But with large box office grosses ("Transformers" brought in more than $700 million worldwide [source: Box Office Mojo]), it's doubtful that Bay will be going back to film school any time soon. The basis for the fake Bay Twitter account is to poke fun at his ego and lack of filmmaking skills. Fans of Bay may be upset, but others are getting quite a kick out of it.
Some recent tweets by fake Michael Bay include:
- "I sleep standing up."
- "Hold my calls till Thursday. I'm filling a kiddie pool with Glenlivet and going snorkeling."
- "I just taught myself to play the Cello. Magnificent."
- "Spoiler alert! The shower I'll be taking this afternoon will officially be four minutes longer than the shower I took yesterday. BOOM!"
- "I would only remake Citizen Kane if they let me convert Rosebud into a SeaDoo."
- "Finished laying dolly track around my house so I can ride my camera from room to room. Why walk to pee when you can have grips push you?"
A funny thing happened in 2005 -- martial arts actor Chuck Norris became more popular than he had been since his "Walker, Texas Ranger" days thanks to a joke that became an Internet phenomenon. Someone thought it would be funny to make up a sheet of "Chuck Norris Facts" that make the actor out to be some kind of super-human capable of "only eating one Lay's potato chip" or "sneezing with his eyes open." Like most viral phenomenon, there's really no explanation on why it took off. The online community found it funny, and the rest is history. It wasn't long before a fake Twitter account was created so fans of Norris and comedy could all have a laugh on a daily basis.
Some of the hysterical highlights include:
- "The quickest way to a man's heart is with Chuck Norris' fist."
- "If you ask Chuck Norris what time it is, he says, "2 seconds till." After you ask, "2 sec to what?" he roundhouse kicks you in the face."
- "When Chuck Norris does a pushup, he isn't lifting himself up. He's pushing the Earth down."
- "The reason newborn babies cry is because they know they have just entered a world with Chuck Norris."
- "Chuck Norris has two speeds: walk and kill."
- "Chuck Norris doesn't play hide-and-seek. He plays hide-and-pray-I-don't-find-you."
Darth Vader may not be a real person, but that didn't stop someone from creating a fake Twitter account for the dark overlord of the "Star Wars" film franchise. As it turns out, Twitter users are always up for a laugh, whether the twitterer is a real person or not -- the Darth Vader account had more than 70,000 followers in April 2009 [source: Twitter]. Creating an account for a fictional character is a good opportunity for fans of the character to breathe some comedic life into their persona. No word yet on what Star Wars creator George Lucas thinks about Vader's tweets. Let's hope he gets the joke, and that the account stays active. Darth Vader may not have had much of a sense of humor in the Star Wars movies, but his Twitter updates are chock full of hilarity.
Here's what the all-powerful Sith Lord is up to:
- "Curse those stupid Sand People & what they did to mom. I can't even enjoy the beach without breaking out in hives."
- "Just threw my waiter in carbonite for bringing me the wrong salad. All bleu cheesy."
- "Was scheduled to destroy a small rebel enclave this morning but I overslept. Internal chronometer didn't reset. R&D will pay dearly."
- "FYI: Just because a certain Sith Lord is 67.5% nuts & bolts, it doesn't mean he's fake."
- "The bad news is we had to let go of about 8,000 clone troopers today. The good news is it really only counts as 1."
Comedian Stephen Colbert has made a career in comedy with a subtle sense of humor that can only be described as deadpan. Not only does Colbert rarely crack a smile on his Comedy Central television show "The Colbert Report," but he typically delivers his unique brand of political commentary with a deadly serious, stern look on his face. Many people who don't follow the show can't tell if the host is serious or not, but make no mistake, Colbert is always joking. After getting his start as a field "reporter" on buddy John Stewart's "The Daily Show," Colbert landed his own show in 2005. The show has proved to be popular with viewers and critics alike. In 2008, "The Colbert Report" won an Emmy award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program [source: IMDB.com].
There are several fake Colbert accounts on Twitter, but the original has gained the most followers (more than 190,000) and is the most true to Colbert's deadpan comedy stylings [source: Twitter].
Here are some funny, but fake, tweets from the Colbert imposter:
- "The world is a dirty place, and I am America's lemon-scented wetnap."
- "Is that Truth in my pocket, or am I just happy to see you?"
- "The truth hurts. But fortunately for you nation... I'm a masochist."
- "The pen is mightier than the sword, if you shoot that pen out of a gun."
Actor Christopher Walken has something not many Hollywood stars can claim -- mainstream notoriety and a cult following. In the world of movies, you're typically one or the other. Because of Walken's unusual speaking voice and cadence, he's become an icon that can take a small part in a little-known movie and turn it into a funny and memorable performance. Walken's appearances on the late-night sketch comedy show "Saturday Night Live" have become the stuff of legend, and his catch-phrase from one of those skits, "I need more cow-bell," is now part of the American pop-lexicon.
Add to this the fact that Walken can appear menacing and terrifying with his ghostly looks and imposing frame, and what you get is ripe for a hysterical phony Twitter account. The problem is, Twitter shut down what had become its most popular fake account. An outcry from fans of Walken and comedy everywhere soon followed. Since then, several new Walken fakes have turned up, but the original remains in shut-down mode. The outcry has made Twitter take notice, but there's no word yet on whether the popular account will be reinstated.
Here are some examples of the cryptic messages that were posted on the fake Christopher Walken account:
- "The neighbor's cat is back at the window looking in at me. I wonder how he would describe this to other cats. If he wanted to, I mean."
- "There's a kid on a Pogo stick in front of my house. It's nearly midnight so let's assume he's been drinking. This should end well for him."
- "I claim to be frightened of horses but do so only to get out of attending parades. It's peculiar but has served me well. The horses get it."
- "I spent $40.00 on a bag of food for a dog that eats extension cords. That's still probably cheaper than a bag of extension cords I suppose."
Nearly 1 billion people got a Facebook Safety Check notification that a friend or loved one was safe in a crisis in 2015. HowStuffWorks Now digs in.
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- Russo, Maria. "Twitterers Demand: More 'Fake Walken'!" Thewrap.com. April 1, 2009.http://www.thewrap.com/ind-column/2188
- Wortham, Jenna. "@DarthVader? 11 Fake Twitterers Ripe for a Takedown." Wired.com, Aug. 27, 2008.http://blog.wired.com/underwire/2008/08/top-twitterers.html
- Xan Brooks. "Ewan McGregor twitchy over fake Twitter site." Guardian.co.uk. March 9, 2009.http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2009/mar/09/ewan-mcgregor-fake-twitter-feed