Since I last posted I got caught up in a Twitter event, not quite the full storm, but exciting enough amd definitely worth sharing.
I have read a few articles in the press recently about Twitterstorms where the sheer weight of Twitter traffic around a single subject results in an outcome in the ‘real’ world. Secret injunctions around a case involving the dumping of toxic waste were forced out into the open after comments on Twitter. http://www.politics.co.uk/…/guardian-gagging-order-sparks-twitter-frenzy-$1333687.htm
and complaints about Jan Moir’s Steven Gately article reached record levels afer the Twitterati got on the case. http://www.editorsweblog.org/…/web_outrage_over_moirs_gately_article_se.php
So imagine my excitement when I started seeing comments building up around the subject #Sunfail. ( The hash-tag at the start collects all the posts on this subject together. ) It appears the Sun newspaper, which had spent the week savaging the Prime Minister for mis-spelling a hand written letter of condolence, had in fact been guitly of the same mis-spelling and there was a Twitterpic to prove it. People were re-twittering the story in large numbers which is the best way to get a topic ‘trending’, that is, in the top rank of talked about subjects on Twitter. What the international Twitter brigade made of it I don’t know, not much I suspect, it is a thoroughly domestic story. But it was being driven by comedians and as we know comedians viz Stephen Fry, are the very glitteriest stars in the Twitterati.
As an ex BBCer, I alerted my contacts to the story. They hadn’t heard it and promised to look into it. Wow ! I felt as though I had been directly involved in what Twitter is all about. Spreading news by word of mouth and getting stuff out there that isn’t necessarily being driven by the mainstream media.
However, there needs to be a little post script to this. Later that night the story showed up on Have I Got News for You http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006mkw3
It would seem that the story was being Tweeted AFTER the show had been recorded. So in fact, the story came via the BBC in the first place, although not from it’s news room. I suspect the source was one of the show’s script writers.
Still, this has given me a working insight into how these events occur. If the right people are looking then campaigns can be rolled out, news can be pushed onto agendas, influence can be brought to bear. Twitter is certainly a player despite what the sceptics may say.