The Wall Street Journal is now suing a New York woman named Contessa Bourbon for posing as a a staff reporter on Twitter. Last year, the New York Times sued Bourbon for posing as one of its staff reporters, as iMediaEthics previously reported.
The Sept. 6 lawsuit from Dow Jones accuses Bourbon of a “dilution of trademark” for claiming she has been a Wall Street Journal reporter “since at least February 2015.”
“This action arises from Ms. Bourbon’s pattern of representing that she is a reporter for The Wall Street Journal in order to, inter alia, gain admittance to news conferences and other events and to attract followers on social media, when she is not and has never been a reporter for The Wall Street Journal,” the lawsuit reads. The lawsuit notes that she “has never, at any time, had any professional or business relationship with Dow Jones,” the publisher of The Wall Street Journal.
In addition to posing as a Journal staffer at events, the lawsuit says Bourbon e-mailed the then-editor-in-chief of the Journal in 2015, claiming to be a deputy managing editor and calling for money. She has attended events posing as a Journal employee in March 2018 and May 2018, according to the lawsuit.
The Journal noted it complained to Twitter since Bourbon identified herself as a Wall Street Journal reporter in her bio, but Twitter told Dow Jones that Bourbon did “not violate Twitter’s impersonation policy,” the lawsuit states. After further complaints, Twitter asked Bourbon about the complaint and she maintained she worked for the Journal.
Recent tweets from Bourbon claim she co-owns a hospital and a medical center, and that she is hosting a “sustainable agriculture climate change organic farming gardening seminar.”
iMediaEthics has written to the Times to ask the status of its lawsuit.
I'm planning to hold free sustainable agriculture climate change organic farming gardening seminar in India on Sept 29. Bill Gates wants to hold it initially in New Delhi. Bill Gates has staff in India. Pls. find a university in India, accessible to public transpo for seminar
— Contessa Bourbon (@ContessaBourbon) September 17, 2018
Further, the Journal complained about the content of Bourbon’s posts on social media. “Bourbon’s social media postings purporting to be made by a journalist for The Wall Street Journal contain unprofessional and misleading posts that reflect negatively on The Wall Street Journal,” the lawsuit charges. “Because journalists who work for The Wall Street Journal use Twitter and other social media in their professional capacity, the presence of postings falsely purporting to represent the work of a journalist for the Wall Street Journal harms its reputation.”
Hat Tip: Jeremy Barr