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Journalist hit by second fake social media account in bid to smear him

A regional press reporter hit by ‘identifty theft’ after a fake social media account was set up in his name is now facing a fresh attempt to smear him.

As previously reported on HTFP, fake social media accounts purporting to be Doncaster Free Press reporter Darren Burke were set up on Facebook and X, formerly Twitter, last month.

Darren succeeded in getting the X account taken down, but a second one has now appeared, making the same accusations of political bias.

As the new account, which has the handle @BarrenDurke, is clearly labelled as a parody, X has allowed it to stay up, saying it doesn’t break their rules.


Darren uses the handle @DarrenBurkeSYN on X, while the original identity thief used the name @DarrenBurkeDFP.

It first appeared after the Free Press ran a story about Doncaster Tory MP Nick Fletcher claiming dozens of people had been blocked from his social media accounts for asking questions.

The new account states in its user bio: “Parody Account of Darren Burke, Doncaster Free Press reporter, with a bias against the Conservative Party.”

It first appeared as Darren was facing a seven and a half hour wait in A&E with his elderly father John, who was struggling with severe hip pain.

Darren told HTFP:  “It was while we were still at the hospital the parody account @BarrenDurke was set up. Despite myself and others reporting it, this time its doesn’t violate rules, because its states it is a parody

“Whoever was behind the last account claims to be behind this one – as I say, all of this has sprung up since running the story about Nick Fletcher’s social media, so we’ve obviously ruffled a few feathers somewhere.”

In a statement issued to Darren, X stated: “Our team has investigated the account and determined that it is not in violation of Twitter’s rules regarding impersonation.

“Parody, commentary, and fan accounts are permitted on Twitter so long as they are in compliance with our policy for such accounts.

“Twitter tries not to intervene in disputes involving our users, who are solely responsible for the content they create.

“We encourage you to contact the user directly by @reply, direct message, or any of the other contact information provided via the user’s “Bio” or URL to resolve this dispute.”