In May 2013, following revelations that Toronto mayor Rob Ford had been videotaped smoking crack with members of a street gang, Haemorrhage co-founder Richard Feren established the satirical Twitter account @TOMayorFrod to provide an alternate "official" broadcast organ of the criminally surreal Ford administration. Since then, the account has accumulated well over 10,000 followers, including many prominent politicians, journalists, and cultural figures, along with people in Toronto and around the world who appreciate the wit and wisdom of "Mayor Crime Lord" (originally "Mayor Rob Frod").

For the first few months of its existence, Feren tweeted anonymously, like many authors of parody accounts. @TOMayorFrod's following grew steadily, especially after Toronto suffered a disastrous storm that caused widespread flooding. During the crisis, @TOMayorFrod set aside the jokes and tweeted frequent public-service announcements with helpful information (unlike the actual mayor who made a brief media appearance, then camped out in his SUV with the engine running). The unique nature of the account was recognized in a news article by Marc Weisblott, and international commentators took note of this unusual use of satirical social media.

In November 2013, when Rob Ford finally admitted his crack use after months of steadfast denials, Feren decided to go public with his identity as the author of @TOMayorFrod, fearing that Ford might try to garner sympathy for having a "medical problem". So Feren shared his own story of being a former crack user, reminding people of the dire effects of this addiction and warning them not to let Ford off the hook for his odious behaviour.

The account was originally designed to mimic the mayor's official account very closely, but after eight months of skewering Rob Ford, Twitter abruptly suspended the account, citing possible violation of its impersonation/trademark infringement policies. Feren agreed to modify the profile so that it was more clearly satirical, and one day later, the account was back in action. The suspension triggered waves of outrage throughout the twittersphere, and was reported in many major news outlets (including an article by "Crazy Town" author Robyn Doolittle), as was its welcome return.

Richard Feren wrote an article about the suspension for Vice, where he had been writing several satirical articles in character. The reconstituted @TOMayorFrod account ("Mayor Crime Lord") was now even more ruthless and biting, with a clear focus on the criminality of Rob Ford and his extended family. In addition to @TOMayorFrod, Feren has also created spinoff accounts @2014MayorFrod (a parody of Rob's official campaign account, now repurposed as the "Doug Frod Campaign"), and @DecoLibels, a satire of the Ford family business.

The account has received many accolades: it was cited in several lists of Twitter's top parody accounts. It was also shortlisted for a Shorty Award, and Feren himself was recognized as a Toronto "Hero" for his efforts, by Torontoist. On election day, 2014, an analysis by Vox Pop Labs of the 101 most influential twitter accounts in Toronto politics placed @TOMayorFrod at # 2.

Although Rob Ford ultimately dropped out of the mayoral race, he was elected to his old Ward 2 council seat in October 2014, so Feren continues to tweet on the account (now as "Councillor Rob Frod"). He also launched a satire of the new mayor, John Tory, envisioning him as Troy McClure from The Simpsons, at @TOMayorTroy. However, he has proven a far more challenging subject to satirize. Rumour has it that, based on all the research he's done for this satirical project, Feren is now working on a definitive feature-length documentary on the Ford family, but this cannot be confirmed with absolute certainty.

On March 22, 2016, Rob Ford died. The account, which had gradually tweeted less and less as his condition worsened, tweeted a final message, thanking followers, sincerely wishing Ford a rest in peace, and linking to Feren's eulogy for him.

The Inside Story's Avery Haines sits down with the mystery man who brought a searing dose of satire to the Mayor Ford saga through a parody Twitter account.
This week on Skedlive, Nick Dasko takes us through some of the stories this week and Joyita Sengupta interviews Richard Feren, the man behind @TOMayorFrod, a popular satirical Rob Ford twitter handle.