After embattled FBI special agent Peter Strzok was fired on Monday, a tweet from an account bearing his name and likeness issued a scathing denunciation of President Trump -- and quickly went viral.
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The tweet said, "I have been fired for expressing my personal opinion in private texts about a dictator that history will soon deem not only a Russian asset but an unhinged madman threatening the sovereignty of the United States of America."
I have been fired for expressing my personal opinion in private texts about a dictator that history will soon deem not only a Russian asset but an unhinged madman threatening the sovereignty of the United States of America.— Peter Strzck (@notpeterstrzok) August 13, 2018
One problem: it wasn't Peter Strzok.
In fact, it was intentionally advertising not to be Peter Strzok: The account's name was @notpeterstrzok and was explicitly identified as a parody account in its bio.
None of that appeared to matter as reactions to the tweet rocketed in the wake of the agent's firing amid scrutiny over anti-Trump texts he sent from a work phone. The tweet racked up 56,000 retweets and more than 200,000 likes.
Many Twitter users pointed out the account did not belong to the terminated FBI agent, but that did not stop the rain of reactions. Subsequent missives continued the attack on the president and rapidly went viral, as well. One climbed to more than 25,000 retweets:
We currently live in a country where an FBI agent lost his job for sending anti Trump text messages, yet Trump is still the President despite his campaign having 75 contacts & 25 meetings with Russian operatives WHILE Russia attacked America.— Peter Strzck (@notpeterstrzok) August 13, 2018
In a bit of parody-account winking, the account even shared tweets from a parody Loretta Lynch account.
The @notpeterstrzok handle was not the only fake Peter Strzok Twitter account that garnered attention in the wake of the agent's firing. Another, bearing Peter Strzok's full name in its handle, was suspended.
In response to a request for comment, Twitter pointed ABC News to its guidelines on parody and fake accounts, which mandate that parody accounts clearly identify as such and distinguish their handles from the real figure. The company's rules state that action can be taken "when we receive a valid impersonation or trademark report about an account that is not in compliance with our Policy."
Twitter's primary method for outwardly distinguishing real accounts of major public figures is verification, symbolized by its famous blue check mark.
Strzok does have a verified account that was established this month. He has tweeted twice, including one tweet linking to a GoFundMe page, along with a screen capture of his attorney's statement.
Neither of Strzok's verified account tweets has proven to be as popular as the parody account's offerings.