Popular parody Twitter accounts and number of followers
• @FakeJoeDooley: 6,100
• @EvilTurnerGill: 2,000
• @FakeJeffWithey: 1,800
• @FakeCharlesWeis: 1,199
• @AllenFieldhaus: 1,000
• @NotKUCompliance: 750
• @FauxCharlieWeis: 32
He’s the man behind the curtain of the Twitter parody account @FakeJeffWithey, creating an alter-ego for the 7-foot Kansas University basketball player.
And he’ll admit, the popularity of the account has surprised him, as he’s gained more than 1,800 Twitter followers, and counting, since opening the account in September.
“I’m shocked,” said the KU student, who revealed himself to the Journal-World, but asked that his real identity be kept secret. “It’s gone so much further than I expected.”
Jeff Withey is one of dozens of local celebrities and high-profile Kansans targeted by social media pranksters and fans with parody accounts. There’s the obvious targets — Turner Gill, Mark Mangino, Bill Self and Gov. Sam Brownback — who are all parodied, in some cases multiple times. And in less than a day, social media humorists had created several parody accounts for newly announced KU football coach Charlie Weis.
Then there’s perhaps the most popular of all, a parody account for the Steve Buscemi look-a-like assistant KU men’s basketball coach, Joe Dooley.
On any given day, @FakeJoeDooley — with more than 6,000 followers — can be found trading snide remarks with other parody accounts, such as @EvilTurnerGill or @BabyMangino.
Some of the parody accounts are pointed and snarky, and at times vulgar. Others, like @FakeJeffWithey, are more light-hearted.
“I’ve always been a Withey fan,” said the @FakeJeffWithey’s handler, who’s lobbied, so far unsuccessfully, to convince some local sporting goods stores to carry Withey jerseys.
The fun, says @FakeJeffWithey, is creating a character for the player who’s miles from the party-loving, celebrity-driven alter ego found online. The real Withey recently addressed the parody account in a Wichita Eagle story — and to @FakeJeffWithey’s delight — the real Withey’s a fan of the account.
But there have been complications in the local parody Twitter world. For instance, when an account popped up online with the Twitter name @KUCompliance, parodying KU Athletics Compliance, which monitors student athletes and NCAA regulations.
The problem? The Twitter handle didn’t clearly identify the account as a parody, per Twitter guidelines on such accounts. Twitter devotes an entire website to the issue, clearly stating that such accounts should include the words “fake,” “not” or “fan.”
Jim Marchiony, KU Athletics spokesman, said the real KU Compliance was getting complaints from people in the community who thought the Twitter account was operated by the real office.
A KU graduate, who now lives out-of-state and asked that his real name not be used, said he opened the account when he discovered KU Compliance didn’t have a twitter account, as many other colleges compliance offices do.
After some back and forth, the name was changed to @NotKUCompliance, and the real KU Compliance now has its own handle, @JayhawkComply.
The handler for @NotKUCompliance insists it’s all in good fun.
“The KU Compliance Dept is way too busy to police everything. That’s where the Fake KU Compliance Dept comes in,” @NotKUCompliance tweeted to the Journal-World.
For @FakeJeffWithey, the parody account is all about honoring his favorite KU player.
At first, he thought he’d check in with the account occasionally, but at this point, @FakeJeffWithey “is his own character.”
“I’m starting to think like @FakeJeffWithey,” he said.