There is a fine line between offensive humor and entertaining satire. Balancing delicately on this line, Drake University Independent News has served as a beacon of light-hearted, satirical humor in a dark time. But when DUiN began masquerading as a university official on social media, the line between satire and impersonation became muddled.
On April Fools Day of 2020, the staff at the independent magazine developed a joke that involved using DUiN’s Twitter account to impersonate Drake President Marty Martin. They changed the publication’s Twitter handle, profile picture and bio to make it seem as though the account belonged to Martin before tweeting things like “Need money for rent. $500 to get on the president’s list, cashapp me,” and “You know what, I’m just gonna say it: Jerry Parker’s kinda hot.”
The prank was executed after the idea was approved by Max Brown, who served as Editor-in-Chief during the 2019-2020 academic year, and current EIC Emma Stockman.
Stockman began working with DUiN in the second semester of her freshman year. As an environmental science major, Stockman discovered her passion for satirical writing through a couple friends who worked for DUiN.
Brown began writing satirical work in high school while taking dual enrollment credits at a local community college in Minnesota. After transferring to Drake University in the fall of 2018, Brown immediately gravitated towards the satirical magazine.
After Martin became aware of the prank, Brown took the brunt of the consequences. Martin scheduled a Microsoft Teams meeting with Brown for April 6 to discuss the incident. During the call, Martin questioned the justification for DUiN’s actions.
Brown explained that the tweets were intended as a joke. This did not appease Martin, who then asked Brown what he intended to do to rectify the situation. Brown’s answer: nothing.
After twenty-four hours, DUiN’s Twitter account reverted to its original state. The content that was posted, however, remained.
On May 6, 2020, President Martin once again emailed Brown about the incident.
“He emailed me again, asking me what DUiN was going to do to make it right,” Brown said. “No specific demand or instruction was made by him at that time.”
In a series of emails, Martin stated that he was very offended by the jokes that he felt qualified as “extremely profane and gross content” and demanded two specific tweets be deleted.
The staff of DUiN complied with Martin’s demands in May. However, at the end of November, the DUiN Twitter account was suspended.
“We were suspended on the grounds of impersonation,” Stockman said. “That was the official Twitter notification that we got from them.”
Social media is the life blood of DUiN, Brown said. The magazine has been around in some form since the late 1980s, but didn’t begin receiving traction until they began posting on the Twitter account in Sept. 2019.
DUiN staff began the long process of trying to contact Twitter. While Twitter ignored pleas to reinstate the account, DUiN suffered. Stockman said DUiN staff member Luke Gentle contacted Twitter roughly thirty times in an attempt to get the account reinstated. His efforts eventually paid off when the account was reinstated on Jan. 14, 2021.
For more, follow @DrakeDuin on Twitter or visit duinmag.com.