French PM outed as secret tweeter

Prime Minister François Fillon was secretly tweeting under the pseudonym fdebeauce. He is suspected of having opened an account to spy on other politicians.

François Fillon admitted on Sunday that fdebeauce was his online persona, known as a handle, on Twitter. His name comes from a hamlet called Beauce in the department of Sarthe where Fillon owns a house, daily Liberation reports.

The French PM has only tweeted a couple of times since he opened an account in October. On October 23rd, he tweeted that he was meeting the Japanese PM Yoshihiko Noda. Fillon was not very active but was following political journalists and politicians online.

He was even following arch-rival Rachida Dati, mayor of the 7th district in Paris.

Web users have been combing the web since December 2nd to find Fillon after UMP lawmaker Jérôme Chartier hinted he was online. “François Fillon said he was following me under a pseudonym. I’ll give a bottle of champagne to the person who finds him,” he tweeted.

A web user called smarchau, who says he’s a teacher and an IT specialist, was the first person to find the prime minister’s handle.

Responding to accusations Fillon was using his account to spy on other politicians, Industry Minister Eric Besson said “if he had used his real name, he would have been overwhelmed with requests and comments.”

“I think it’s an intelligent move to use a pseudonym to go online, to test the waters and see what people are saying.”