Legendary advice columnist Ann Landers died in 2002, so how is it that @Ann__Landers is counseling people on Twitter?
Well, it’s not her. It’s a fake account, and Landers’s daughter is furious that Twitter won’t take it down. Margo Howard, who lives in Cambridge, says she and her attorney both have demanded that @Ann__Landers be removed, but the social media site is ignoring them.
“I own everything — my mother’s trademark, the copyright, the likeness,” Howard said Monday. “Using her picture is definitely illegal, but they don’t care.”
Over the weekend, Howard, who’s active on Twitter, asked her 8,100 followers to retweet her complaint, hoping that some good old-fashioned public shaming would do the trick.
“Your algorithms and forms are useless. I’m not even sure there are actual people, not bots, offering ‘support,’ ” she tweeted @TwitterSupport. “You have made it impossible to communicate about and prove someone is impersonating my late mother. This is a provable case of trademark infringement.”
Interestingly, @Ann__Landers’s tweets sound like they were written by an old-school communist. There’s a lot of talk, for example, about the selfishness and greed of capitalism and the need to revolt.
Howard, a writer and onetime advice columnist herself, said her mother would never say such things — “capitalism was very good to her,” Howard said, laughing — and she wonders if the bogus account is somehow mixed up with Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election. (The @Ann__Landers account’s last tweet was in 2015.)
If you’re wondering what the real Ann Landers might have tweeted, her daughter said she wouldn’t be on Twitter.
“Honey, she didn’t even want to monkey around with e-mail,” Howard said. “She was so used to people putting a stamp on an envelope and sending her a letter.”