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SUNY Geneseo student gets some national publicity over Twitter flap

SUNY Geneseo

A SUNY Geneseo student has found himself getting some national publicity over a parody account he created on Twitter.

According to Isaiah Kelly, a 20 year old SUNY Geneseo sophomore from Brighton, this all began a few weeks ago over winter break, when one of the issues the campus was having had to do with asbestos particles found in a college library.

Kelly says he poked fun at the situation with a parody account on Twitter. The social media company told him he’d have to change the name of the account, and then after a power outage on the Geneseo campus last week, Kelly started posting some more comments poking fun at the situation.

After those tweets, Kelly last week found he had been locked out of the parody account by Twitter.  The entire situation is getting a lot of media attention, including a recent web article on Business Insider, a national publication.

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SUNY Geneseo officials released a statement saying that they support creative expression, even if the joke is about them; but they say Twitter determined that Kelly’s parody account violated a policy about impersonating another account and turned access over to SUNY Geneseo.

Kelly is surprised that Twitter did that.

Credit Isaiah Kelly
A screenshot from Isaiah Kelly's parody account.

“We’re a pretty small campus, maybe like 5, 6,000 (students). I would understand if the SUNY Geneseo page was followed by a ton of people; but for Twitter to just hand it over when it’s not that big of a, not ‘deal,’ but that big of an account, I think it’s pretty crazy,” Kelly says.”

Kelly still has his own personal Twitter account but the parody account, which was created through his college email, has been locked. He’s hoping it can be unlocked, and more importantly, Kelly says he hopes this whole episode just leads to better communication between SUNY Geneseo and its students.

A spokeperson for Twitter, meanwhile, told WXXI News that it made a mistake about turning over access of Kelly’s parody account to college officials, and should have suspended the parody count for impersonation (under Twitter's policies). Twitter says it has now done this.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.