HBO boss Casey Bloys admits fake X accounts ‘stupid idea’

  • HBO CEO Casey Bloys publicly apologised for using fake X accounts to engage with TV critics who had written negative reviews about HBO series.
  • Bloys admitted that the idea was a “very, very dumb” one and expressed regret for the six tweets sent over a year and a half.
  • The controversy emerged in the context of a lawsuit filed by a former HBO assistant, Sully Temori, who claimed wrongful termination.

In an interview at the Warner Bros. Discovery headquarters in New York City, Casey Bloys, the CEO of HBO and Max, addressed an unsettling issue that had recently come to light. Bloys began by stating:

“For those of you who know me, you know that I am a programming executive who is very, very passionate about the shows that we decide to do. And the people who do them and the people who work on them. I want the shows to be great. I want people to love them. I want you all to love them. It’s very important to me what you all think of the shows. So when you think of that mindset, and then think of 2020 and 2021, I’m home, working from home and spending an unhealthy amount of scrolling through Twitter. And I come up with a very, very dumb idea to vent my frustration.”

Texan mom, herbalist: Not the smartest ideas

The HBO chief’s “dumb idea” involved instructing some employees to create fake X accounts (known as “Twitter” that time) in order to engage with TV critics who had penned unfavorable reviews of HBO programs, such as “Perry Mason” and “The Nevers.”

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Bloys acknowledged the inappropriateness of this approach. During the interview, he specifically mentioned a few critics, including Vulture’s Kathryn VanArendonk, Rolling Stone’s Alan Sepinwall, and the New York Times’ James Poniewozik, who had been targeted by these fake accounts.

One phony account was presented as a Texan mom and herbalist named Kelly Shepherd, who bashed critics in a manner that was far from constructive.

HBO boss offers apology

Bloys expressed apology over the indiscretion:

“Obviously, six tweets over a year and a half is not very effective. But I do apologise to the people who were mentioned in the leaked texts. Obviously, nobody wants to be part of a story that they have nothing to do with. But also, as many of you know, I have progressed over the past couple of years to using DMs. So now, when I take issue with something in a review, or take issue with something I see, I DM many of you, and many of you are gracious enough to engage with me in a back and forth, and I think that is probably a much healthier way to go about this.”

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Bloys’ apology and his commitment to more direct communication marked a notable shift in his approach to handling criticism. He admitted that his past actions were ill-conceived and offered a promise to engage in a more constructive manner moving forward.

The lawsuit that unearthed the fake X accounts

The controversy emerged as part of a lawsuit filed by former HBO assistant Sully Temori, who claimed wrongful termination. The suit also revealed 2020 and 2021 text messages between Bloys and SVP of drama programming Kathleen McCaffrey discussing the use of fake Twitter accounts to respond to critics of HBO series.

These text messages were authenticated via their metadata and implicated Bloys in the social media strategy. The lawsuit also alleged that Temori, at Bloys’ behest, created the fake Twitter account Kelly Shepard to respond to negative reviews.

As Bloys concluded his remarks, the audience transitioned from the unexpected apology to the eagerly awaited presentation of HBO and Max’s 2024 programming slate, with a sneak peek of the upcoming season of “True Detective: Night Country.”

Image credit: Maciej Drążkiewicz via Unsplash


Bal M

Bal was BTW's copywriter specialising in tech and productivity tools. He has experience working in startups, mid-size tech companies, and non-profits.

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