Kyodo News has found 29 Twitter users posing as political party leaders ahead of the launch Thursday of the first campaign in which candidates will be allowed to use the Internet.
Ten users of the social network service were posing as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, head of the Liberal Democratic Party, including one using the same photo as the one on Abe’s official Twitter site and the handle Abeshinso, similar to the real Abe’s user name, AbeShinzo.
Eight Twitter users were posing as Seikatsu no To (People’s Life Party) leader Ichiro Ozawa, five as Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) co-leader Toru Hashimoto, four as Shintaro Ishihara, Nippon Ishin’s other leader, one as Democratic Party of Japan head Banri Kaieda and one as Social Democratic Party leader Mizuho Fukushima.
Twitter Japan has used a blue mark to certify famous people’s Twitter accounts as authentic to prevent fakes.
It plans to use the mark for all those who register Thursday as candidates in the July 21 Upper House election and urge voters to make sure they’re dealing with legitimate candidates.
Most tweets on the spoof Twitter sites are jokes and can be easily identified as fake.
Abe’s office urged the posers to knock it off. Hashimoto’s office said such accounts should be stamped out.
Twitter Japan said that if requested by authentic Twitter users, it will ask the posers to change their user names or close their accounts.
The revised Public Offices Election Law prohibits posing as a candidate for campaign purposes, including soliciting votes. Violators can be sentenced to a prison term of up to two years or a fine of up to ¥300,000 and lose the right to vote or be elected.