I came across an interesting Twitter-storm this morning. One that has been going on for the last couple of days and is still ongoing at the time of writing. It appears that a well known Daily Mail and Express journalist made a couple of statements on Twitter on 6th May regarding her ability to obtain the personal contact information of other Twitter users
Those tweets are here:
And a few tweets later:
Clearly, it is of interest when an established journalist and broadcaster claims publicly, so soon after the telephone hacking scandal and Leveson, to have “contacts” who are prepared to trace and provide personal identifying information (which they believe to be held privately by Twitter) on other Twitter users, including telephone numbers and presumably names and addresses. Further, it seems clear from the tweets above, that this has occurred and the information has been both provided and then utilised by the journalist in question
Is the journalist exaggerating? Did she really use “contacts” to trace other Twitter users so that she might ‘have at them’?
I am sure we have all over-egged the pudding on occasion but, if this was the case here shouldn’t the journalist have just admitted it? Would it really have been a big deal?
It seems from the journalist’s tweets, prior and subsequent to those pictured above, that she had taken issue with the people she has obtained the personal information on, describing them as “trolls”. She also goes on to provide in a separate tweet the full name of at least one person and adding, in most likely unintentional Yoda-speak: “Not a spine to her. Scared of me. Hiding after that last call”
I have to be clear, I do not know whether the journalist is making it all up or has actually obtained personal information on other tweeps, whether legitimately or otherwise. However, her public claim that she has obtained what is privately-held information and the rather aggressive tone in some of her tweets does I think merit some further consideration
One tweep said the journalist must have obtained the information from Twitter itself, however this seems highly dubious given that Twitter will not release any such information unless you have jumped through a considerable number of legal loopholes and nor has the journalist herself confirmed that this is how she came across the information
My other interest in all of this is the way that other Twitter users are involving themselves. Most importantly, the role of a core group acting in support of the journalist by muddying the discussion; continuing – now into its third day – making ad hom attacks on the blogger who first contacted the journalist and seeking to head off any proper exploration of the central issue (the journalist’s tweets) by any casual Twitter users that happen to come across the exchanges
As far as I am aware, there has still been no satisfactory explanation from the journalist as to why she made the comments in the first place. Not that she need explain on Twitter, of course. But it might have prevented the level of fallout
This is all happening right now. If you are interested then I would encourage you to read the original blog post by Thomas Pride and then work your way through his Twitter timeline, beginning with his tweet in which he initially raises the question with the journalist. You will quickly identify the core actors. What is noticeable as you read through the conversations is the way in which the blogger is accused of “spin and distraction” of “being sneaky“, and far far worse. All entirely unsubstantiated of course, but thrown in nevertheless. There are also some very good examples of concern trolling going on that are worth noting for future reference
Just having had a look now at the grief he is still getting, it appears that blogger Tom has certainly struck a nerve. What isn’t clear, is precisely whose nerve he has struck…