As addictive and timewasting as it can be, sometimes spending time on Twitter really does feel like it’s a good thing. Last week, I was swept up in several waves of Twitter do-gooding and it felt good. Really good. Like I was an activist or something.
On October 13th, Twitter was awash with people commenting on the Carter-Ruck super-injunction that attempted to stop The Guardian reporting a question on the Trafigura affair in Parliament. It wasn’t long before links to the information Carter-Ruck didn’t want us to see were being passed around on Twitter like notes in a classroom and, subsequently, The Guardian was ‘released from restrictions forthwith’. I re-tweeted the happy news, as discovered from the newspaper’s editor, at around the same time as someone from Newsnight was getting screen shots of all the Trafigura noise on Twitter, ready for that night’s show. Therefore, by complete fluke, I sort-of appeared on television talking about current affairs. How very grown-up of me.
A few days later, Twitter was up in arms again, this time over two things – some tube worker being rather rude to a customer at Holborn station (he has since been suspended pending investigation, due to a link to a video of the incident being passed to Boris Johnson), and some journalist being rather rude about the recently deceased Stephen Gately in, quel surprise, The Daily Fail.
The original headline to Jan Moir‘s article was “Why there was nothing ‘natural’ about Stephen Gately’s death” but, by 2.30pm, over 500 (mostly negative) comments on the article meant that the paper had to do something, so a change was made. This followed an awful lot of messages from Twitter and Facebook users to advertisers, asking them if they wanted to be associated with such views. As you can see from Charlie Brooker‘s screen shot in the previous link, no ads were visible by the afternoon. Even when she defended her article, Jan Moir still got it wrong. Stephen Fry tweeted about her ignorance of social networking and we all tutted and sighed that she couldn’t just apologise. Today I discovered that it wasn’t just me who complained.
Hopefully this new found ‘voice’ will be used for good and not just witch-hunting or name-calling. However, most days, it’ll probably still be used to simply tell people what we had for lunch.