Owner of suspended Ford parody account hopes to return

Asked by Twitter to change account's picture and bio

The man behind @TOMayorFrod hopes Twitter will allow him to once again tweet from the account after changing the account’s avatar and bio.

Richard Feren, who created the account shortly after the crack video involving Toronto mayor Rob Ford was released last May, had the account suspended by Twitter Wednesday morning.

“Twitter decided to act on a complaint and yesterday morning the account was suspended,” Feren said. “I had not received any warning prior to that, so I didn’t know what the reason was.”


Richard Feren, shown in his own Twitter photo, created a parody account of Mayor Rob Ford, which was suspended by Twitter on Wednesday

Feren, who describes himself on his own Twitter account as a “composer, sound designer, recording artist, writer, would-be bon vivant,” posted a photo of the email he received from Twitter.

In the email, Twitter said they had received a complaint that the account, @TOMayorFrod, may be in violation of Twitter’s policies on impersonation and/or trademark.

Feren appealed to Twitter to try to find out why the account had been suspended.

“I filed an appeal through the Twitter site just asking them for an explanation. They took a while but eventually they sent a message back saying that the account may have been in violation of their trademark infringement policy,” he said.

He doesn’t know the exact reason why his account was targeted but he says Twitter wouldn’t have suspended the account unless a formal complaint was filed.

“Usually they don’t act on such complaints unless they come from the target of the impersonation,” he said. “But Rob Ford and his staff so far have denied that they actually made a complaint about it. So it’s a bit strange.”

Feren created the parody account shortly after Ford lost staffers as a result of the crack video scandal.

“I noticed it was kind of strange when shortly after the news about the crack video broke in May, Rob Ford lost a lot of his staff,” Feren said. “But the twitter account kept going and would tweet things like ‘my office continues to function’, ‘phone calls are still being returned.’”

“So I came up with a bunch of other tweets, ‘we change the coffee pot’ and ‘put up a Marmaduke cartoon.’ And so I created an account that looked a lot like the official account in order to continue with these official looking tweets. So that’s how it started and it took on a life of its own.”

Feren has obliged with Twitter’s rules on trademark infringement and hopes after seeing the changes, he will be allowed to tweet from the account once again.

“I’m hopeful that they will reinstate it, that the changes that I’ve made will be satisfactory for them,” he said. “Most people knew that it was a mock account anyway but there was always, you know, people who thought it was Rob Ford. So that’s going to be a less likely occurrence now — clearly a satire.”

About this article

By: Jennifer Lee
Copy editor: Paolo Maquiraya
Posted: Feb 20 2014 11:50 am
Filed under: News