Canada’s ‘Climate Barbie’ Convinces Twitter to Shut Down Parody Account

Catherine McKenna
ALICE CHICHE/AFP/Getty Images

Twitter has banned a parody account of Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, after the Canadian government asked the social media platform to take action.

The Toronto Star reported Thursday that McKenna’s office had lodged an official complaint with Twitter about the now-defunct parody account that allegedly fooled some people into believing the messages came from the minister.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office confirmed that McKenna’s ministry had asked Twitter to ban the account, contending it wasn’t a “parody” but an “impersonation,” which the social media platform does not permit.

Curiously, the first word in the fake account’s biography was “parody,” but nonetheless the ministry argued that some people could be tricked into believing it was McKenna herself sending out the messages. The account employed the same profile and banner pictures that Ms. McKenna uses on her official, blue-badge verified Twitter account.

“Parody is one thing … But impersonation accounts deliberately try to mislead people – it’s like identity theft, and it undermines our ability to have productive, informed conversations about issues that matter,” McKenna’s office reportedly wrote.

Parodies of the blonde, 46-year-old Trudeau appointee abound, often bearing the hashtag #ClimateBarbie.

One recent spoof of McKenna had her urging citizens to celebrate upcoming national festivities by waving flashlights at trees instead of setting off fireworks, for the environment’s sake.

“Did you know that fireworks release smoke and toxins into the air?” tweeted the Catherine McKenna parody in preparation for the country’s commemoration of “Canada Day” on July 1.

Twitter users could be forgiven for confusing between McKenna’s real account and the parody accounts, since her actual tweets have often stretched the imagination.

In March, Ms. McKenna used her platform as Climate Minister to urge citizens to “consider the gendered impacts of climate change on women, girls and children,” and applauded Canada’s leadership for training “women negotiators” to combat manmade global warming.

McKenna was tweeting from the 2018 World Ocean Summit taking place in the Mexican resort town of Cancún, sponsored by the UK-based Economist magazine.

This is not the first time the shin-skinned minister has expressed indignation over teasing on social media.

Last November Ms. McKenna called out a conservative site — the Rebel — that had repeatedly referred to her as “climate Barbie,” demanding a commitment from reporter Christopher Wilson during a news conference that the Rebel stop using the term in its articles and on social media.

“So you’re the Rebel Media that happens to call me ‘climate Barbie.’ I certainly hope that you will no longer use that hashtag,” McKenna said.

Wilson replied that he would not personally use the label but said he did not have editorial control over others.

Not long afterward the Rebel founder Ezra Levant tweeted, “Appointed to fill a gender quota; unable to control her emotions when criticized; spends taxes on vanity photo shoots. #ClimateBarbie fits.”

While not altogether abandoning the “Climate Barbie” moniker, in more recent posts, the Rebel has taken to referring to the minister as Catherine “McQuota.”

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