Campaign to Unfollow “Occupied” Opposition Twitter

@lentaofficial's new logo.

@lentaofficial's new logo.

After RuNet's mainstay news portal lost almost its entire staff [Global Voices report] to a shift in editorial policy, its official Twitter account @lentaruofficial stopped updating. Then, several weeks later, on April 1, 2014 it activated again, with the following tweet:

The polite people occupying the office asked us to write something here. But we are lazy.

The tone of the tweet as well as the frivolous emoticon appeared to copy @lentaruofficial's original humorous style (it famously started each day with the Russian equivalent of “what's up doodz”). The “polite people” phrase is a reference to the commonly used euphemism for anonymous Russian soldiers so ubiquitously present in Crimea over the past weeks. Later, another tweet commented on the fact that @lentaruoffical regained its verified status:

Goodnight! We've returned the official account status to @lentaruofficial. #politeeditorialstaff

Former correspondent Ilya Azar tweeted [ru] that the new @lentaruofficial was “occupied” and is trying to mimic the old Lenta. He also said that he and his compatriots are not currently running any affiliated Twitter accounts. Many @lentaruofficial fans were incensed at the perceived usurpation, and started a mini-campaign to get people to unfollow the “zombie” impostor. One ex-Lenta employee tweeted:

unfollow lentaruofficial, it's not us, it's some strange dudes that only break things which work great.

Some users reported [ru] that the new account was being run by a team of social media marketers who came to together with the new editor-in-chief. Alexey Navalny's compatriot Leonid Volkov went further, saying that the account needs be actively banned from Twitter:

Don't forget to unfollow @lentaruofficial and report them as spam. They are occupants.

The official account of Rain TV also chimed in:

Today is the first of the month. Don't forget to get your bus pass, pay for internet, feed the cat and unfollow @lentaruofficial.

The campaign to unfollow @lentaruofficial did produce results, but nothing to write home about. Over the period of 4 days around 10,000 people unfollowed the account. As of April 4, the account's follower count stopped dropping, and stabilized at 230,000 followers. The 10,000 users that took action could perhaps be viewed as a kind of proxy for the active core of politically engaged Russian microbloggers.

@lentaruofficial follower count over the last few days. From, screenshot.

@lentaruofficial follower count over the last few days. From, screenshot.

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