Why Does Twitter Keep Verifying Fake Cormac McCarthy Accounts?

Reclusive novelists probably don't spend much time on social media

Actor Samuel L. Jackson, writer Cormac McCarthy and HBO Films president Len Amato attend the HBO Films & The Cinema Society screening of "Sunset Limited" after party at Porter House on February 1, 2011 in New York City.
Samuel L. Jackson, Cormac McCarthy and HBO Films president Len Amato on February 1, 2011 in NYC.
Andrew H. Walker/WireImage

Over the course of his long career, Cormac McCarthy has won the Pulitzer Prize and written movingly of expansive Western spaces while also offering brilliantly written scenes of hell on Earth. (That would be Blood Meridian, one of the most stunning American novels written in the last 50 years, though The Road, which features a baby-eating scene, is also pretty searing.) He’s also written a movie in which a character played by Cameron Diaz has sex with a car.

If ever there was a list of writers you wouldn’t expect to see on social media, McCarthy would certainly be on it, just below Thomas Pynchon and Elena Ferrante. Yet earlier today, Twitter verified an account purporting to belong to the author of All the Pretty Horses and No Country For Old Men.

There’s one problem, though: the account is fake.

As James Vincent notes at The Verge, a representative for McCarthy’s agent confirmed that the account is bogus. The New Republic‘s Alex Shephard also reportedly got confirmation to that effect from both McCarthy’s publisher and agent. And, later on Monday, Twitter un-verified the account.

What makes this especially notable, however, is the fact that this is the second time Twitter has verified a Cormac McCarthy account that wasn’t actually Cormac McCarthy. The first time this took place was in 2012 when a Scottish novelist named Michael Crossan quickly amassed 6,000 followers and tricked, among others, Margaret Atwood into believing he was McCarthy.

As literary hoaxes go, pretending to be Cormac McCarthy isn’t all that egregious — but falling for it multiple times doesn’t reflect terribly well on Twitter’s verification team.

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