“Official” Twitter account impersonating President Halimah Yacob removed by Twitter

Look carefully for the blue tick before retweeting.

By Sulaiman Daud | September 18, 2017

It seems like every world leader these days has a Twitter account.

Even though the microblogging site has lost some ground to Instagram and (previously) Snapchat, it’s still a useful tool to deliver (short and) important policy messages and better connect with the public.

So it’s no surprise that Singapore’s new President, Halimah Yacob, would set up a Twitter account of her own.

But it wasn’t this one, which carried the handle @President_Yacob:

Screen shot from Twitter.

This account tweeted its first two messages on Monday, Sep. 18, which you can see below:

Screen shot from Twitter.
Screen shot from Twitter.

Twitter has since taken down this account for impersonation — it had by then amassed in excess of 240 followers.

Red flags

If you saw the account while it was still active, you would have noticed a few warning signs to indicate that it is not legitimate.

Firstly, it does not have the blue tick Twitter usually gives to verify certain profiles. These ticks indicate that the account is genuine and really does belong to the person it claims to represent. Verified accounts have a blue tick symbol beside their names. For example:

Screen shots from Twitter.

And if that account tweets something, the blue tick will show up beside the Twitter handle on the tweet as well:

As you can see, the Twitter profile above that claimed to be our new president, even though it said it was her “official Twitter handle”, did not have the verified tick.

Another revealing detail is that Twitter lets you see when its accounts are created. And this profile was created in May 2017.

That was quite some time before Halimah officially confirmed in August that she intended to run for the Presidency. However, Yahoo Singapore previously reported that Halimah had thought about running since March 2017, quoting an unnamed source within the PAP.

This isn’t the only profile bearing Halimah’s name on Twitter, actually. A search turns up one other, created in March 2010 with zero tweets.

Screen shot from Twitter.

More impersonations on Instagram

Twitter is not the only social media platform with dubious accounts, of course. Instagram also has more than its fair share, although Halimah does have an official Instagram account, as evidenced by the blue tick symbol:

Screen shot from Instagram.

Parody accounts

Twitter doesn’t ban all fake accounts, however. Parody accounts are allowed, as long as they clearly indicate that they are a parody and do not claim to be the real person. Take for example the parody accounts of PM Lee and the Straits Times.

Screen shots from Twitter.

It tweets outrageous things, but it’s allowed to stay up as it has stated clearly that it’s a fake account.

Mothership has confirmed that the @President_Yacob profile is not legitimate and that it has been taken down by Twitter for impersonation. We’re also aware that President Halimah will have an official Twitter account, which has not yet been activated.

Related stories:

North Korea reportedly congratulated Halimah Yacob on becoming president of S’pore

S’porean’s rant on Twitter about Halimah Yacob’s presidency shows what we should take away from this

China’s netizens say S’pore turning into an Islamic state, Halimah Yacob reminds them of terrorists

Top image via screenshot from Twitter.

About Sulaiman Daud

Sulaiman believes that we can be heroes, if just for one day. His favourite Doctor is Peter Capaldi's Twelve. In his spare time he writes about film, pop-culture and international politics, which you are very welcome to read here.

Morning Commute

Interesting stories to discuss with your colleagues in office later