A Falkland Islands Twitter Account Is Argentina’s Biggest Troll

WIB politics October 7, 2016 0

As far as we can tell, this penguin, native to the Falklands, does not own the Twitter account in question. Moonshiner69 photo via Flickr On...
As far as we can tell, this penguin, native to the Falklands, does not own the Twitter account in question. Moonshiner69 photo via Flickr

On the Internet, no one knows if you’re a penguin

by MEAGHAN BEATLEY

In an unlikely but fascinating geopolitical development, a giant troll has secured a spot center stage in the ongoing saga over a desolate archipelago’s battle for sovereignty.

The Falkland Islands’ unofficial Twitter account, @falklands_utd, is basically a modern day and non-fictitious equivalent of Monty Python and the Holy Grail’s taunting French guard — it delights in tormenting Argentina over its inability to reclaim (or even simply claim) the islands, which lay some 400 kilometers off the South American nation’s coast but are a U.K. overseas territory — and proud of it.

The account’s trolling is so constant that it’s become a fixture among Argentine media, which refer to it as the “voice of the Kelpers [the islanders’ nickname]” despite its unofficial status. The islands’ official handle is @FalklandsGov and “is in no way linked” to the other account, a government representative was quick to assure Motherboard.

But popularity rules, and @Falklands_utd’s nearly 50,000 followers by far outnumber the institutional account’s 14,000. We reached out to the account, but, alas, received no response.

Greatest hits include:

Argentine presidents are expected to make the sovereignty claim a central part of their foreign policy.

Former president Cristina Kirchner was so zealous about it she went so far as to enact a law requiring all public transport to bear the phrase “Las Islas Malvinas son Argentinas” (“The Malvinas Islands are Argentine” — Malvinas being the Argentine name for the islands) and at one point stated that the islands “constitute a NATO military nuclear base in the South Atlantic.”

The claim was wholly rejected by the U.K. … and wholly embraced by @Falklands_utd, which responded with merciless trolling:

The accompanying tweet blitz was so intense that Kirchner blocked the account. Point to the Kelpers.

In a bid to repair diplomatic relations with the U.K., current Pres. Mauricio Macri has positioned himself as a more amenable party.

He still put his foot in his mouth last month when he proclaimed that U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May had agreed to discuss the islands’ sovereignty. Turns out she’d agreed to no such thing. @Falklands_utd did what it does best and threw some extra shade on the embarrassing incident:

As is now customary, Argentine media covered the tweet almost as extensively as Macri’s blunder. “They made us wait for it, but they finally spoke up as well,” an article in popular Argentina daily La Nación began before launching into its own coverage.

Local outlets were less jocular when reporting on a perceived threat of imminent conquest: following Brexit — which a majority of islanders voted against, preferring to keep their commercial ties with the EU — @Falklands_utd posted the following:

Argentine media exploded with headlines alerting readers of the “enigmatic” and “mysterious” tweet, one outlet even going so far as to erroneously declare: “Via official account, Kelper government officially announces it will ‘take control of Argentina.’”

Argentine social media users were less conservative with their opinions:

Then, on June 26, when Argentina suffered a humiliating defeat against Chile in the Copa America final, @Falklands_utd didn’t miss a beat:

Playing ball, Argentine outlet El Destape ascribed the islanders’ jubilance to their need to “celebrate after the Brexit disappointment.”

At times claimed by the Spanish, French and British, the embattled islands came under Argentine rule in 1820 after the new South American nation secured its independence from Spain.

The British then either seized them or took them back, depending on whom you speak to, in 1833.

The conflict famously came to a head in 1982, when the Argentine government, then in the hands of a brutal military dictatorship, sent poorly trained and ill-equipped young soldiers to reclaim the islands, resulting in 650 Argentine and 255 British deaths.

Today, the endless turf war has found a new theater of hostilities in social media. Thankfully, snark remains (theoretically) less lethal than bullets.

Originally published at motherboard.vice.com.