TweetMobs will not always be a power for good

Posted on 19/10/2009


There have been more words written subsequent to the Jan Moir article on Stephen Gately’s death than she’s ever written in her life. So there’s no need for me to recount how error ridden her article and subsequent reply are (Charlie Brooker in the Guardian, Daniel Finklestein in the Times and even Janet Street Porter in the Mail give some of the best responses).

Even the freedom of speech debate is now well trodden (on right wing blogs and this morning’s Wright Stuff). Moir should have the opportunity to express herself (she should get a blog), but the Daily Mail should not have printed such erroneous and PCC violating information.

But both Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and the Telegraph’s Damian Thompson get closer to the most worrying issue.

The PCC may act, the Mail may lose advertisers, distribution channels or even sales, but what those of us tempted to rejoice must consider is what happens when the boot is on the other foot.

Just as a TweetMob has been created (if you scroll though What The Hashtag it’s clear it’s not just a few celebrities or gay activists behind this campaign) around Jan Moir and Trafigura, so – in time – will such a campaign rally round a more worrying debate.

An illegal immigrant kills a young mother leads to calls for mass deportation, a suspected pedophile is lynched by a TweetMob after his address is posted then found to be a pediatrician, a high profile gay celebrity is found cruising on Hampstead Heath as a class on a school trip pass by leads to a TweetMob calling for total CCTV cover and 24/7 policing of our parks.

We should never assume that a TweetMob will always be a power for good.

And given that, the question for those who have taken part in the more recent TweetMobs (and for those working in public relations) is how do you fight back against one?

That’s a blog for the future…