On Tuesday, outrage over London mayor Boris Johnson’s personal takeover of the publicly-funded mayoral Twitter account amidst a reelection campaign spilled across Twitter.
Now Johnson has vowed to cease using the account to promote his reelection campaign, switching the handle from @BorisJohnson back to @MayorofLondon, and using a third, brand-new account for his campaign.
“As (Johnson) entered the campaign he was determined to ensure there was no confusion between him as Mayor and him as a candidate and therefore changed the name of his Twitter account,” a spokesperson wrote on Johnson’s campaign blog. “He did not expect this openness and honesty to have created such hysteria. So in case there is even one Londoner who has a problem with what he did, he will not use that account for the campaign and instead can be followed from the political front on @BackBoris2012.”
The campaign has also deleted the following tweet, sent yesterday from the newly-appropriated mayoral account, presumably because it promoted Johnson’s reelection bid: “To be clear-@borisjohnson will only be used for discussing mayoral duties. To follow me on the campaign trail, follow @backboris2012.”
The @borisjohnson account still exists, but has no activity and barely any followers, suggesting it was freshly registered to prevent Twitter squatters from claiming it.
The Guardian reports that the @mayoroflondon account actually began under the name @BorisJohnson when the mayor started it in 2008. It was changed to @mayoroflondon a few weeks later at Johnson’s behest.
In 2009, local authorities ruled that the account was being used in Johnson’s official capacities as mayor, not as a personal account.
It wouldn’t be the first time someone’s employer tried to assert ownership over a personal account.