I love Twitter; I love the way it allows news, opinions and political unrest to zip around the world in a matter of minutes.
When that aeroplane successfully landed in the Hudson, the very first mention of it online came not through a major news provider but through Janis Krums twittering. He said: “There’s a plane in the Hudson. I’m on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy.”
Crazy indeed. However, whatever Twitter’s potential for spreading news and views fast, it is undeniably equally good at spreading bitching, scandal and rumour.
Here are my favourite five such moments. Please feel free to add your own below.
Ever since Russell Brand ‘insulted’ a ‘comedy institution’, a number of tabloids have gleefully awaited his next ‘scandal’.
However, it cannot be denied that Brand does not always help himself. Following Sachsgate, justice secretary Jack Straw waded in, suggesting Brand and his partner-in-crime Jonathan Ross should pay the fine.
Twitter, it seems, provided just enough letters for the cockney comedian to defend himself. “I demand Jack Straw pays the £7 billion he squandered on the Iraq war that we didn’t want.”
He quickly followed this up with an attack of Ofcom, that watchdog behind the fine. “What do ‘Ofcom’ do with all that money? What is their mandate? I think they spend it all on porn. As head of ‘Ofporn’ I fine them 150,000.”
The Daily Mail didn’t agree.
Poor James, he has become a byword for how not to win friends and influence people. He was visiting Memphis on behalf of his employer Ketchum to make a presentation on digital marketing (the cringeworthy irony!) to FedEx.
So, on arrival, with a spare few moments, Andrews felt it was appropriate to tweet: “True confession but I’m in one of those towns where I scratch my head and say ‘I would die if I had to live here!'”
Trouble was, this was seen by a Memphis-loving FedEx employee, who sent it on to the management chains of both organisations.Ouch. This proud Memphis dweller wrote a lengthy tirade about Andrews’ lack of respect, adding: “A hazard of social networking is people will read what you write.”
Truer words have not been spoken.
In one of the more low-key ministerial resignations of late, former digital engagement minister Tom Watson revealed he’d be stepping down through the microblogging platform.
Following some expenses revelations and accusations of smearing – which have since been retracted – Watson had had enough and left the Cabinet Office to ‘spend more time with his family’.
“I promised, Twitter friends, you’d get it first,” he tweeted, linking to his resignation letter on his blog. According to the FT, within one hour of his tweet, almost 3,000 people had clicked through to the letter.
To be fair, although any debacle that drives a minister to resign is a PR failure, this use of Twitter won him a great deal of support from the web.
Perhaps not a Twitter failure but a Twitter salvage.
There are not many blog posts in which Tom Watson’s name could be followed by the infamous Nine Inch Nails singer. Anyway, Reznor has taken a vow of silence on Twitter. Apart from official band announcements, he will tweet no more.
He gives lots of reasons for this decision and interestingly one of them seems to be that some fans have been disillusioned by his cheerful tweets.
Reznor explains: “I approached [Twitter] as a place to be less formal and more off-the-cuff, honest and ‘human’. I was not expecting to broadcast details of my love life there, but it happened because I’m in love and it’s all I think about and that’s that. If this has bummed you out or destroyed what you’ve projected on me, fair enough – it’s probably time for you to leave.”
Perhaps it’s harder managing your brand when you are a real, live, changeable person.
I will link to his post because it is an interesting reflection on changing fan/celebrity interactions. However, he is Trent Reznor and so this is quite rude, fairly descriptive and profane, you may want to read this at home rather than at work. Here’s the link.
According to the world of possibly-made-up celebrity gossip, Jennifer Aniston ditched musician boyfriend John Mayer because he spent hours tweeting but not enough time talking to her.
A ‘friend’ of the former Friends actress – and you do have to question if any real friend would be selling secrets to the Star – Mayer would be busily updating his feed while telling Aniston he was too busy to talk to her.
“Every few hours, sometimes minutes, he’d update with some stupid line. And in her mind, she was like ‘he has time for all this Twittering, but he can’t send me a text, an email, make a call?’.”
What an ex, what a friend and what a uniquely 21st century break up.