Saturday October 1st 2022

If you can’t stand the tweet – the ANC Youth League’s bleat about the twitter-bush

Karen Jeynes is all a-twitter over a political party’s foray into social media censorship.

Everyone is having a good laugh at the ANC Youth League today for their “gem of a press release” calling for the closure of Twitter. Apart from the rather painful grammar, and their unique phraseology, we laugh at their naivety. Because surely everyone knows by now that the internet is one big free for all, only this time it’s the geeks who are in charge, and the rest are doing their best not to catch the attention of the nerd in the back with the quick twitter fingers. This is where you went wrong, Julius – you’re too easy a target.

Yes, it’s true- shock horror – people can easily misrepresent themselves online. They can, and do, to various ends: luring children into sex traps, playing tricks on people, trapping their spouses into “cheating”, poking fun at celebrities. But this same anonymity is often exploited for good – providing spaces for people to discuss and confess issues they wouldn’t normally have the guts to, making bold and often illegal political statements.

In one of the most fascinating recent occurrences of this, Josh Simpson, a young comedian, started a fake BP twitter account, @BPGlobalPR. This “joke” account, started as a way to mock BPs ineffectual response to the oil spill crisis, ended up becoming a way of motivating people to do their bit to help, a fundraising mechanism, and something which spurred BP itself to take greater responsibility. The full story makes for fascinating reading as an insight into how social media has changed the way the public interacts with corporates.

Citizen journalism, a voice for all – in most democratic countries, the internet provides just that. And all the most successful companies, organisations, and even, Mr Malema, political parties, know that you can’t stop the oppositional voices. The only way to silence your naysayers – or naytweeters – is to be better than them. To deliver on your promises. To force even the harshest of critics to acknowledge you’ve done a good job. So how about it, ANC Youth League? Open up a real account, get it verified so we all know it’s really you, and then wow us with your intellect, wit, and wisdom. But don’t fret; you don’t get even 1 thousandth as much twitter traffic as Justin Bieber.

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