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FalseSteveJobs Twitter Account Transformed into a News Feed

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Note -- this news article is more than a year old.

A few hundred thousand users of the Twitter website may have woken up today to an account posting news articles into their content feed, and wondered who the account is as they couldn't quite recall following it.

The account, @NowReport appears to be brand new, with just three messages posted and yet has over 450,000 followers.

It is possible on Twitter to change a username, and keep the account active - and therefore also possible to sell an existing account with lots of followers to another person and they can change the username to whatever they want - or simply change what you want to do with an account you own.

That is what seems to have happened here.

Why is this news worthy?

We have a tracking system that logs tweets -- for an unrelated website service -- and our analysis of the account and past history confirmed that the new account is in fact the dormant @falseSteveJobs account, a famous and widely followed spoof of Apple's former CEO, Steve Jobs, who died this morning.

It would seem that the owner of the account chose today to start benefiting from their huge follower count to promote their new website.

The @falseSteveJobs was still posting as the spoof Steve Jobs until the 24th August - the last message read "Finally left Apple so I could focus all my efforts on making cute kids films at Pixar." (Google web cache)

It is not directly possible to compare the two accounts via the database as once a Twitter username is changed, all the records of past activity are wiped from the public record and cannot be traced. That said, both accounts have similar follower numbers, and both are based in US Pacific Time.

However, our own database records show that on March 24th 2011, the @falseSteveJobs account posted the following message: "Follow @NowReport for breaking news, views, cartoons and entertainment on Twitter."

The NowReport account points to a Facebook page - which was seemingly created the previous day, on the 23rd March.

As some point after the 4th October 2001 (the Bing cache shows the account still active then), the @falseSteveJobs account was transformed into @NowReport - and today, it was reactivated.

While switching an account is a perfectly legitimate thing to do, some might question whether today was the best day to have done so.

Postscript - as the @falseSteveJobs username is now available, someone else grabbed that this morning as well.

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Tags: twitter