The check mark gave it a semblance of legitimacy, but a popular Twitter account associated with Cormac McCarthy, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Road” and “No Country for Old Men,” that went from being verified to not is a forgery, according to his agent on Monday.
The account, @CormacMcCrthy, had over 49,000 followers since it was created in September 2018 by someone impersonating Mr. McCarthy, a storyteller with a rumoured aversion to computers.
Fans of Mr. McCarthy’s prose, which is known for intense and at times sadistic narratives that frequently pit good versus evil, would recognise the voice on Twitter.
The tweets, which mused about kombucha, TikTok, and Disney+, drew tens of thousands of retweets and likes due to their witty and curmudgeonly tone.
Mr. McCarthy’s books are often framed by death and gritty imagery, from venomous rattlesnakes in the Mojave Desert to a psychopathic killer whose primary means of execution is a bolt gun used to slaughter cattle.
In “Blood Meridian,” he describes a posse of mercenaries sitting around a fire in the southwest:
“The flames sawed in the wind, and the embers paled and deepened and paled and deepened like the bloodbeat of some living thing eviscerate upon the ground before them, and they watched the fire, which does contain something of men themselves inasmuch as they are less without it, divided from their origins, and exiles,” he wrote.
Posting on Twitter, on the other hand, appeared to be a chore for the person posing as Mr. McCarthy.
Mr. McCarthy, 88, was cast as a social media neophyte trying to please a frequently mentioned publicist named Terry, according to the author of the tweets.
“My publicist is on my case about my infrequent use of this infernal website,” the person wrote on Friday, bringing the account to widespread attention. “He claims that engagement is down, as are metrics, and who cares?” I sent a tweet from there. Terry, are you happy now?”
Mr. King gave his blessing two days later. “I’m not sure if Terry is, but I am,” he wrote.
On Monday, Paul Bogaards, a spokesman for Mr. McCarthy’s publisher, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, said the account was a hoax.
“We are in the process of informing our Twitter colleagues,” he said. “It is clear that their verification process is not impenetrable.”
Mr. McCarthy’s agent, Amanda Urban, added, “This is definitely not Cormac.”
On Monday, a Twitter representative stated that “the account referenced was verified by mistake and that has since been reversed.”
The white check mark in a blue badge — the designation for verified accounts used by celebrities, writers, politicians, and journalists — had been removed by Monday afternoon.
There was no indication of how long the account had been verified. Twitter did not respond to questions about how the error occurred. Going forward, the company stated that the account would be required to adhere to its policy of labelling parody or fan accounts.
Famous people’s accounts were once chosen by Twitter to be verified. The check marks have become something of a status symbol on the social media platform, and they are meant to differentiate celebrities from impersonators. Users can now request that their accounts be verified.
This was not the first time there had been a commotion about Mr. McCarthy’s social media footprint — or lack thereof.
The Atlantic reported in 2012 that an unpublished author from Scotland impersonated Mr. McCarthy on Twitter, attracting the attention of novelist Margaret Atwood and Jack Dorsey, the founder and current CEO of Twitter, before the fake account was suspended.
Mr. Dorsey welcomed the account at the time, boasting, “We have the best authors in the world right here.”