Tom Daley

There have been many successful campaigns on Facebook, but once Twitter gets some momentum it’s very hard to stop.  Let’s look at three fairly different examples from the last week.

Tom Daley

As most UK readers will know, Tom Daley is a GB diver currently taking part in the Olympics.

After he finished out of the medals in 4th place in the Synchronised Pairs earlier this week, a Twitter user called Riley Junior suggested that ‘he had let his dad down’.

The poster later claimed he had not known Daley’s father had died a year ago, but unfortunately for Riley Junior, by then Daley had retweeted the offending Tweet to his 931,000 followers.

The conversation then proceeded to become more heated, the original offensive Tweet was forwarded widely and ultimately led to a 17-year-old boy in Weymouth being given a warning by the police.  His account was also suspended by Twitter for breaking their terms of service.

Guy Adams and #nbcfail

Mr Adams is not as famous as Tom Daley, but this week he hit the headlines as Twitter also suspended his account.  Adams’ crime was to include the email address of the head of NBC’s Olympics coverage, which Twitter decided was again breaking their terms of service.

In this case however, there was a strong suspicion that censorship was at play.  It was revealed that Twitter had notified NBC of the tweet and effectively invited them to complain.  NBC and Twitter are commercial partners for the Games.

Adams was not alone in his criticism of NBC’s coverage and the hashtag #nbcfail has been trending since the Games started.

In this case, Twitter relented, apologised, and have reinstated Adams’ account.

I am Spartacus

I am Spartacus

Finally, this has nothing to do with the Olympics, nor Twitter suspending any accounts.  Instead, we were delighted to read this week that the conviction against Paul Chambers have been dropped on appeal.

Chambers, you may remember, made a joke via Twitter in January 2010.  When he was unable to fly from Robin Hood airport due to snow, he tweeted:

“Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!”

Five days later the airport alerted the police and in May 2010 he was found guilty of sending a “menacing electronic communication”.

After the support of celebrities such as Stephen Fry and Al Murray, and the remarkable activity under the #iamspartacus hashtag, when the original offending tweet was retweeted by thousands.

Freedom of speech

Twitter is a fantastic tool, but freedom of speech is a fine line that needs to be managed carefully.   What is clear is that once a topic starts trending on Twitter, there’s no avoiding it!

By Iain Martin