The Daily Show‘s Jessica Williams filed a report from Peoria, Illinois to explore an interesting case of free speech on social media. While parody Twitter accounts can be a scourge for bloggers, no one ever considers the feelings of the person lampooned.
Mayor Jim Ardis didn’t find it amusing when local resident Jon Daniel created a parody account of him. This account made it seem as though it was the mayor asking “where the #hoes at” and proclaiming that he was “trill as f*ck.” Now, did the account note that it was a parody in its profile? Sure. Was the account getting viral internet recognition? From its 50 followers, certainly. Still, Mayor Ardis was not a fan, so he raided Daniel’s residence, seized his electronics, and had him detained (but not charged) for impersonating a government official. Oh, and the mayor held a press conference defending his stance and ensuring that he would make national headlines.
In the end, the ACLU stepped in and the city of Peoria settled with Daniel for a large cash payout. But it’s staggering to see the lengths you need to go through to maintain free speech, even on a random Twitter account.