#FreeSalonDotCom: The Right Wing Fight to Restore a Suspended Salon.com Parody Twitter

A salon.com screenshot, via Wikimedia Commons.
A salon.com screenshot, via Wikimedia Commons. Wikimedia Commons.

Some weeks ago, bored journalists noticed a promising new media parody Twitter entering an already crowded field. It wasn't as popular as @Vice_Is_Hip or as surreal as @UpWorthIt, but—well, it chose an easy target and skewered it well:

#ff @salondotcom, which satirizes @Salon's progressive clickbait

— Peter Sterne🌹 (@petersterne) July 3, 2014

The account turned out to belong to Daily Caller editor Jordan Bloom, a self-described "republican peacenik," and his roommate, Rob Mariani. "Now that we've been outed, the scoldy scolds will probably have some reason for us why the account is NOT OKAY," the two told Mediaite. "We'll do our best to hold out though."

Together, the duo mimicked Salon.com's sharply tuned sensibility of outrage, its heavy focus on identity politics and its headline constructions. "Free at last: Why we need to reform the centuries-old rules of chess so black can finally move first," the account tweeted on July 2. Then: "Why these ten emojis are problematic." "Pooping for progress: What composting my own 'night soil' taught me about sustainability." "Today's Hobby Lobby and Harris decisions show why the 1st Amendment is still a slavery-era relic."

Funny stuff! The account targeted everything but the weirdly violent Jon Stewart Annihilates [Insert Public Figure Here] tweets. It attracted an audience, too. But there was a problem: Few could tell the difference between @SalonDotCom and the real thing.

Retweeting a @Salondotcom joke and being asked earnestly why there’s no @Salon link is basically the best.

— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) July 16, 2014

Someone—we're not sure who—took issue, and so @SalonDotCom was swiftly suspended. How'd it happen?

"The account was in violation of Twitter's terms of service because it didn't include a disclaimer that it was a parody," Bloom wrote me in an email. "But what fun is a parody account if you can't trick people with it?" Bloom speculated the shutdown was due to "a small number of social justice snitches we must have triggered" but wasn't sure if Salon.com had reported it, as the right-wing Twitterati seems to believe. (Twitter requires that impersonation reports "come from the individual being impersonated.")

Joan Walsh, Salon's former editor-in-chief and current editor-at-large, "somewhat cryptically weighed in as well," he added. Calls to Salon's public relations desk went unanswered. But Walsh denied the charge in an email.

"They're legends in their own minds, apparently," Walsh wrote of the Twitter impersonators. But "no, I wouldn't take the time out of my day to report it."

Meanwhile, the libertarian Twittersphere has regarded @SalonDotCom's demise as a new strike in the liberal war on free speech and even engaged the tools of the enemy: Hashtag Activism. Enter #FreeSalonDotCom.

Turns out leftists are the ones that can't take a joke. #FreeSalondotcom

— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) July 17, 2014

Bloggers for Reason.com and the National Review Online have also sounded the charge, but if you listen carefully you might faintly make out the sound of another Salon.com parody account blossoming somewhere in the cornfields.

Oh, there it is.

appalling: GOP right-wing kook doesn't want women in Tennessee to use recreational crack-cocaine while pregnant.

— Fake Salon (@FakeSalonDotCom) July 18, 2014

Twenty five years Zionist TV courtesy of Seinfeld. How one show redefined the whites only TV show.

— Fake Salon (@FakeSalonDotCom) July 18, 2014

Bloom said that he and Mariani aren't behind this account. Turns out the old adage is true. Only like 500 people read @SalonDotCom, but they all went out and started parody accounts of their own.