Why Julius Malema now owns his largest spoof account

Former ANC Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema has been the butt of a number of internet jokes and parodies in the South African online space. Now though he can lay claim to his largest spoof Twitter account.

That’s right, since 30 August Julius Malema has owned @julius_s_malema, which offered a mixture of tongue-in-cheek and factual diary-style entries, along with its 200 000 plus followers.

We first reported that the account’s owner was looking strike a deal in which he would hand it over to Malema and the then ANCYL spokesperson back in 2010.

That was shortly after Malema hit worldwide headlines when the ANCYL called for Twitter to be shut down due to the proliferation of fake accounts tweeting in his name.

According to the account’s creator, who asked to remain anonymous, a number of factors — including a sense of paranoia among ranking members of South Africa’s ruling party — meant that the hand over was put on hold.

Speaking to Memeburn, he said that leading members of the ANC were “very sceptical” about him wanting to hand over the account “because they thought I had an ulterior motive”.

“It was a little bit scary, I thought I was going to be arrested,” he said. “This time around it was easier, because they approached me to see if the offer was still on the table”.

In 2011, the account creator was approached by agency Dash of Lime, in a bid to monetise the account. Making money from the account would however have resulted in a number of legal issues. “It would’ve become fraud,” he told us.

The account’s creator says pretending to be Julius Malema taught him a number of things about social media, to the extent that he now consults on it.

More specifically though, he says he learned a lot about impersonating people. “It’s easier than you think,” he said.

“There were alliances with reporters, but there’s also a science to it. You have to know what to tweet and when.”

The account creator insists however that he never intended the fake account to viewed as parody. “My aim wasn’t about making fun of anyone, it was more about impersonating,” he said.

Since the account was taken over there has been a distinct change in the nature of the tweets coming from the account.

The man who was @julius_s_malema says he doesn’t have any plans for taking on any new politicians in the near future: “There’s no one I feel I can impersonate right now”.



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