The operator of a Twitter account that was initially verified by the microblogging service--and later confirmed by News International--as News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch's wife Wendi Deng confessed on Tuesday that it was, in fact, a spoof.
The prank account was launched on Jan. 1, a day after Rupert Murdoch joined the social messaging service. Twitter--which had reportedly closed its verification program for new accounts--verified both as legitimate accounts, only to later withdraw the verification for @Wendi_Deng.
"We don't comment on our verification process but can confirm that the @wendi_deng account was mistakenly verified for a short period of time," a spokeswoman for Twitter wrote in an email to Yahoo News. "We apologize for the confusion this caused."
"I was as surprised--and even a little alarmed--when I saw the Verified tick appear on the profile," the fake Deng wrote. "And you have to wonder even more why Twitter verified this account for a full day. I never received any communication from them about this. What verification process? That's what I'm saying. There was none. I was never contacted."
On Jan. 1, the faux Deng said she was "joining my husband @rupertmurdoch in our new digital adventure on Twitter." On the same day, the fake Deng urged the real Murdoch to delete a tweet in which the octogenarian media mogul chided Britons for taking too many vacations--while Murdoch, himself, was apparently on one in the Caribbean. (Murdoch's tweet was eventually deleted.)
On Jan. 2, a spokesman for News Corp. erroneously confirmed the authenticity of Deng's account to the UK Guardian.
The fake account flirted with comedian Ricky Gervais, and even corresponded with CNN host Piers Morgan, who had invited Rupert Murdoch and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey to debate "corporate simplification" on his show:
@piersmorgan i will try and persuade @rupertmurdoch - would be great to do it! :)
"It might be only a small matter," the faux Deng wrote on Tuesday, "but 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."
Murdoch, for his part, has already made some headlines with his tweets--campaigning for a George Clooney Oscar, giving President Barack Obama props for the war on terrorism and offering glowing words (if not an official endorsement) for GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, a former Fox News contributor, as the "only candidate with genuine big vision for country."
He also took a subtle swipe at Glenn Beck, the former Fox News host, declaring Beck's "Five" replacements at 5 p.m. "much more fun."
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