Fake Dalai Lama removed from Twitter

10 Feb 2009

The Twitter account of an imposter claiming to be the Dalai Lama has been suspended after members of the micro-blogging community suddenly found themselves being ‘followed’ by the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people.

The Office of His Holiness Dalai Lama (OHHDL) began following members of the Twitter community, and many were surprised to see such messages as: “His Holiness thought it was prudent to make his office open and accessible to a more youth and technologically advancing audience.”

Very soon some 13,000 people were following @OHHDL and were discussing events the 14th Dalai Lama would be speaking at.

@OHHDL joins @God, who interestingly has fewer followers at 5,800 or so.

While Twitter’s community no doubt see the funny side of this, it does bring to light issues of authenticity, impersonation and misrepresentation on the rapidly growing social-networking site.

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone wrote on the site’s blog this morning: “One of the essential doctrines of Buddhism is Impermanence.

“The word expresses the notion that everything we can experience through our senses is in flux, constantly changing and ceasing to be—nothing is permanent. Is there some meaning, therefore, in the sudden disappearance of a Twitter account thought to be the official account of The Office of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama?

“There may be a higher meaning if you meditate enough, but the account was suspended because it violated our Terms of Use regarding impersonation.

“Using Twitter to impersonate others in a manner that does or is intended to mislead, confuse or deceive others is also cited in the Twitter Rules. Should His Holiness decide to take up Twittering for real, we’ll be sure to Follow,” Stone wrote.

By John Kennedy

Pictured: the Dalai Lama, not a Twitter enthusiast, yet