Update (3:30 p.m.) After speaking with Fake Wendi Deng, Josh Halliday just published a full report on the incident with Lisa O'Carrol in The Guardian.
Update (2:28 p.m.) As Fake Wendi Deng starts talking to reporters, some personal details are emerging.
Person behind @Wendi_Deng acct claims to me he is British male in London & was "completely utterly shocked" when Twitter verified— Josh Halliday (@JoshHalliday) January 3, 2012
Update (10:50a.m.) It was adorable when it appeared that Rupert Murdoch's much younger wife Wendi Deng was helping him learn how to use Twitter, but now, News Corp. says it's just another impostor. When we noticed that the Verified Status on @Wendi_Deng's profile disappeared on Monday night, we called the company to find out what happened. "It is fake," a spokesperson told The Atlantic Wire flatly. "Any account bearing her name is fake." Just a few minutes after we reported that the account was a fake, @Wendi_Deng admitted to being an impostor. If anything, however, the real onus falls on Twitter, who Verified the account to begin with, if only for a few hours. (Verification requests are closed to the public, meaning that someone at Twitter HQ must've granted the Verified status to the account on Sunday or Monday.) Twitter spokesperson Rachel Bremer wouldn't comment on the specifics of the situation. "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" Bremer told The Atlantic Wire."We apologize for the confusion this caused." As we've reported in the past, Twitter is becoming increasingly infamous for being hands-off when it comes to individual cases of fraud, even in the event of terrorism threats. We're doing our best to find out more about the specifics of this hoax.
What's strange about this latest Twitter hoax, perhaps the best one we've ever seen, is that everybody reported on the account is if it were real, undoubtedly because of the Verified status. The Guardian even reported on Monday that "A News Corporation spokesman confirmed the authenticity of the @wendi_deng twitter account." We spoke to News International, the British subsidiary of News Corp. who we suspected had confirmed the account, but they denied it. "There may have been a misunderstanding but News Corp. didn't confirm it yesterday," a spokesperson told us, adding that some confusion may have been caused by Twitter having verified the account. "There's no confirmation from News Corp.," the spokesperson reiterated, " and this morning we've confirmed that it's fake, and that's just been reported."
In a fast-paced confessional, the anonymous Fake Wendi Deng apologized and offered some details of how it went down. "I'm sorry if some of you feel misled by this Twitter account, but I never said it was entirely genuine," reads one tweet. "I never said it was a spoof either." Fake Wendi Deng also raised some questions about News Corp., who reportedly confirmed the authenticity of the account, and Twitter, who verified it. "It might be only a small matter, but you have to worry about the management of News International and Twitter if..." reads another tweet. "...they can both readily confirm, for a while at least, that this was the account of a very noted personality."
It's not a huge surprise that it's a spoof given some of the latest of the dozens of tweets the account has sent since it opened on January 1. Tuesday morning's tweets show how Fake Wendi Deng has been trolling celebrities:
oh and answer to qu's - no, dont think @rickygervais ever replied to my tweet! :( HELLO AGAIN RICKY! :D— Wendi Deng Murdoch (@Wendi_Deng) January 3, 2012
Then of course there are the expected trollish tweets directed at Rupert Murdoch, whose account remains verified:
sorry about last msg. u are all ver wonderful for bearing with sometimes bad tweeting from me + @rupertmurdoch !!— Wendi Deng Murdoch (@Wendi_Deng) January 2, 2012
We've reached out to Twitter to find out Twitter doesn't want to talk about how a Fake Wendi Deng won their prized "Verified" badge -- we think we've found out why she lost it.
to answer some msgs, not sure if @rupertmurdoch will be tweeting later but i let him know u want to see more!!! :)— Wendi Deng Murdoch (@Wendi_Deng) January 2, 2012
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.