Just four tweets since October, a Twitter alias and a default egg as a profile picture. There are thousands of accounts like this on Twitter, but this particular one belongs to French Prime Minister François Fillon.
Blatant name-dropping in his first tweet on October 23 could have put his followers on the right track: “@alainlambert and I with Japanese primer minister” ; generally, those anonymous accounts that inundate Twitter don’t talk about hanging out with Japan’s prime minister or a former Minister like Alain Lambert.
French MP Jerôme Chartier’s Twitter profile follows the perfect Politician 2.0 guidelines: a nice profile picture, some photos of his daily activity and a link to his Facebook profile. Enough already to put Fillon’s offering to shame.
It was Chartier who started the race to guess which Twitter account belonged to fellow UMP party member Fillon. On December 2 he revealed that the prime minister was one of his followers but was using a pseudonym. He asked the Twitter community to guess which of them it was. The community was only too happy to oblige.
The eventual winner was Stéphane Marchau (@smarchau), a computer specialist who today became one of the most interviewed people on French radio stations and in newspapers.
As an experienced programmer, he used a software to filter Chartier’s followers. In the end he had only five options. One of them a woman, another an automatic account (a ‘bot) so it became easy to single out Fillon, who lives in a manor at Beaucé and whose account’s name is @fdebeauce.
Marchau is still waiting for the champagne bottle promised as a reward by lawmaker Chartier although Fillon has personally congratulated the computer expert – on Twitter, bien sur – for unmasking him.
The question remains: why did the French Prime Minister open an anonymous account on Twitter. You can ask him yourselves.