Rupert Murdoch Has Joined Twitter, But His Wife’s Account Isn’t Real

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Lucas Jackson / Reuters

Rupert Murdoch arrives with his wife, Wendi Deng, for the premiere of the film "Water for Elephants" in New York

Wendi Deng—easily the most famous pie-defender on Twitter— publicly censored her husband, Rupert Murdoch, for sending out a potentially offensive tweet. That’s what the British media led the world to believe for 24 hours, anyway.

The case of the fake Wendi Deng Twitter account began on Dec. 31, when Deng’s husband joined the microblogging site using the name @rupertmurdoch. Twitter certified the account as authentic, plastering the blue-and-white check mark on its profile page. His tweets were harmless enough: he devoted his 140 characters to relaying details of his family holiday in St. Barth’s in the Caribbean. “Great time in sea with young daughters, uboating,” read one. “I LOVE the film ‘we bought a zoo’, a great family movie. Very proud of fox team who made this great film,” read another.

On Jan. 1, an account called @wendi_deng cropped up, and its profile proclaimed it was Wendi Deng Murdoch herself. “Joining my husband @rupertmurdoch in our new digital adventure on Twitter.”

Later that day the real Murdoch decided to weigh in on Britain’s struggling economy:

(MORE: Jonnie Marbles Pleads Guilty of Assaulting Rupert Murdoch with Pie)

Cue the fake Deng, who then chided her husband using her keypad.

She then appeared to turn to damage control. “EVERY1 @rupertmurdoch was only having a joke pROMSIE!!!” Murdoch removed the tweet (it’s invisible on his timeline, but it’s still accessible from the fake Deng’s reply) and she began to lecture Murdoch on online decorum. “Explaining to @rupertmurdoch about being careful with humor on line. sometimes it comes out as rude!”

The fact that Murdoch removed the tweet from his account fueled speculation that @wendi_deng was real. And the Guardian gave it even more credence when it claimed that a source at News Corp had confirmed Mrs. Rupert Murdoch was behind @wendi_deng. But then “Wendi” dropped the following bombshell on Twitter shortly after 2 p.m. London time on Tuesday.

Subsequently, the fake Deng has said the account was launched to have a bit of fun, and that the faker has been horrified by the racism demonstrated against Deng’s Twitter persona. The phony also raised a very good question about the people policing Twitter:

Over the past day, “Deng” did more than pretend to hold Murdoch’s hand in cyberspace. She also ingratiated herself with CNN’s Piers Morgan, writing “@piersmorgan hi piers i hear u are THE person to follow on twitter!! :)” And she even flirted with British comedian Ricky Gervais: “i think you look HOT ricky!!! (sssh dont tell @rupertmurdoch!)” She also demonstrated her diplomatic skills by refusing to be drawn into discussions about Jonnie Marbles, the man who tried to pie her husband only to have Deng volleyball spike him in the head.

As of Tuesday morning, Fake Deng had followed 43 people—including Murdoch, Oprah, Paris Hilton and Tyra Banks. But it wasn’t all fun and games. She also followed Louise Mensch and Tom Watson, two of the members of the parliamentary committee investigating phone hacking. In November, as James Murdoch testified before the committee, Watson described the 39-year old as a “mafia boss” and accused him of “running a criminal enterprise.” Clearly she wanted to keep close tabs on her husband’s detractors.

For now, the verified @rupertmurdoch appears to remain very real. He isn’t following @wendi_deng.

PHOTOS: The Life and Times of Wendi Deng

William Lee Adams is a staff writer at the London bureau of TIME. Find him on Twitter at @willyleeadams or on Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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