Thousands were feared dead yesterday after controversial internet guru Neville Jagoff ordered his Twitter followers to commit mass suicide. “At seven twenty-three yesterday evening, Jagoff posted a tweet telling them to ‘Sod off and die, you sad bastards’,” explains Detective Superintendant Frank Clamfettler of Scotland Yard’s Net Crimes Squad. “When several of them replied, asking how they should follow his command, he tweeted: ‘Try swallowing sleeping pills with anti-freeze, you stupid tossers’. We fear that many followed his advice.” Attempts to ascertain exactly how many have perished are being hampered by the widespread use of false identities by Twitter users. “We have good reason to believe that none of the twelve or so Dalai Lamas following Jagoff were the real thing, for instance,” says Clamfettler. “At the moment we’re concentrating on trying to discover the real identities and locations of those followers who haven’t updated in the last twelve hours.” The policeman has denied that Scotland Yard have in any way been naïve in their investigation, falling victim too easily to Twitter hoaxers and practical jokers. “We think it entirely credible that victims of this bizarre internet suicide pact would type ‘Aaaarghh’ as their final Tweet before expiring,” he opines. “These young people are absolutely obsessed with chronicling every minute detail of their lives online.” However, despite the authorities’ fears of mass casualties, it seems that some of Jagoff’s followers have survived he attempted holocaust. “We didn’t have any sleeping pills, so I took an overdose of vitamin pills, instead,” explains twenty-three year old Sydney resident Geoff Dunny. “I had to wash them down with Coke, as we’d run out of anti-freeze. I know it wasn’t exactly what the Great Leader had told me to do, but I really thought I was going to die after swallowing that lot – I was chundering for half the night!” Dunny, a typical Jagoff follower – young, single and still living with his parents – tried to explain where the guru’s strange attraction lay. “It was his Tweets, I just don’t know how anyone could be so profound in just 140 characters,” he sighs, holding an icepack to his head. “They were about simple, everyday things – yet gave such insight. Until I read his postings on his laundry routine, I never realised just how complex washing your clothes could be – all those considerations as to what temperature and spin settings! I just give my dirty washing to my mum to do!”

Another surviving follower, nineteen-year old Maisie Twiddler of Montreal believes that it was Jagoff’s deep and ancient wisdom which drew her to his feed. “There was no question he couldn’t answer. If there was something which had been perplexing you for years, all you had to do was ask, and he could put your mind at rest,” she explains. “He was able to explain to me why a Jaffa Cake wasn’t a biscuit – it wasn’t hard baked, apparently. It was such a relief! I could finally sleep properly again, without that question nagging away at me!” According to Bill Clackworth, who survived the mass suicide due to having run out of credit on his mobile phone when Jagoff made his fateful Tweets, it was the volume and quality of those already following the cult-leader’s feed which led to him becoming an acolyte. “Yeah, he had that fake Chris Moyles bloke as a follower, and that bird who was in that underwear advert, and loads more people who followed other celebrities I like,” the Blackburn teenager says. “I just thought, all those people couldn’t be wrong, he had to be saying something really important.” Jagoff’s rapid rise to popularity – boasting over three million followers after just three months on the feed – has left experts baffled. “It is extraordinary for anyone other than a celebrity, who can plug their feed through other media, to be able to attract such a volume of followers through posting mundane shit. I just don’t understand it!” says Professor Dylan Humpload, an expert on social networking. “Most ordinary people spend months being ignored and are lucky to get one or two accidental followers.” Nevertheless, the academic believes that Twitter is a potential breeding ground for cultists and religious fanatics. “Its terminology of ‘followers’ and ‘following’ lend themselves to the idea that only a relatively few users’ have anything worthwhile to say, and that the rest should just listen,” he says. “Once you have millions of followers faithfully hanging on to your every word, it would be a simple thing to start indoctrinating them with your own agenda. I just hope that Stephen Fry doesn’t turn out to be some power-crazed mega-villain hell-bent on converting his followers to homosexuality!” Humpload suspects that Jagoff didn’t set out to become a cult-leader. “I think that, as he realised that increasing numbers of followers were expectantly waiting for his next Tweet, he became drunk on power,” he muses. “His later posts show distinct signs of megalomania – his terseness with his acolytes, for instance, and the way he deliberately gives obviously wrong answers to their questions, knowing they’ll believe anything he tells them. In one of his last Tweets, for example, one girl asks him where truffles came from, and he replies ‘My arse!’”

Jagoff’s cult is just the latest Twitter-related incident which Superintendant Clamfettler and his squad have been forced to investigate. Only last year, there was the case of Mickey Muffler, the so-called ‘Twitter Serial Killer’, who claimed to have murdered several of his followers, then Tweeted, in graphic detail, about the killings, often posting pictures of his victims’ severed body parts. “It was the only way I could get people to pay any attention to me,” he later told a newspaper. “I spent weeks posting witticisms and really profound thoughts, but everybody else on Twitter just ignored me because I wasn’t already famous.” Jealous at the Twitter success of others, Muffler started stalking various Twitterers with more followers than himself in the real world, before, he claims, killing them. “It was really easy to find them – they Twitter their every bloody movement,” he explains. Disturbingly, the more he posted about his murders, and the more graphic his Tweets were, the more followers he accumulated. “I was forced to commit more and more murders to satisfy my followers,” he laments. “I had to make them ever more brutal, otherwise they’d have deserted me for some other serial killer. Or Ashton Kutcher.” However, doubt has been thrown on his claims, with sceptics pointing out that Clamfettler’s unit has failed to identify any of Muffler’s alleged victims, just as they have so far failed to identify any victims of Jagoff’s supposed cult, or even ascertained whether the alleged cultist himself is alive or dead. The policeman rejects suggestions that his squad have been taken in by the online ramblings of attention-seeking social inadequates. “It is well known that many non-celebrity Twitter-users are prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to get themselves noticed,” he points out. “Some impersonate celebrities, others spend their time directing outrageous abuse at celebrities in order to make a name for themselves – there’s at least one who pretends to be a cat. Mass murder and suicide cults seem to me to be a perfectly logical next step for such clearly unbalanced characters!”