There’s something very cool and satisfying about Twitter. I actually think that as a tool for journalists it has the potential to be very valuable and I know that my colleagues (shoutout to @julieposetti) are doing some interesting work to integrate it into both newsrooms and the journalism curriculum.
But, I also know that the sound and fury of an unmoderated twitterfeed can be overwhelming and that the signal-to-noise ratio is very low.
I have written about this at some length in News 2.0: Can journalism survive the Interet? I use the example of the 2009 Iran uprising because the book was published before the Arab Spring.
I know that social media is a valuable tool for political organising, but it can be over-hyped. Revolutions are made on the street with real sweat and real blood; not in the cool vacuum of cyberspace.
I also know that, on the other side, dear old Laura Norder would like nothing better than to corral young people into a panopticon of digital surveillance and stop them from organising riots using their Blackberry and other mobile devices.
So, we have a long way to go before these issues are finally resolved. I call this the techno-legal time-gap: the dissonance between applications and regulation.
And no, I’m not calling for more regulation or laws to stop us using social media.
However, as the name suggests: there are some twits in the twitterverse.
I came across one today. And he/she confirms, for me anyway, my argument that sometimes people think that freedom of speech and expression is just the freedom to be insulting, rude or offensive.
May I introduce one of Twitterville’s many village idiots: @PropheticKleenx
Now this could be a really clever kid with a wicked sense of irony and humour: “Location: Roman controlled Australia”
But I don’t think so.
Anyway @PropheticKleenx sent me a series of unsolicited tweets today using my @ethicalmartini handle. Obviously, I’ve done something to upset this person.
You’d never guess what that might be!
I must admit I didn’t know that ‘history’ had proved Joe McCarthy was right about anything except that pink lipstick with a canary slip is so not right.
I am gob-smacked to hear that Crikey is a Jesuit publication; I thought it was home to fun-loving Trotsky-in-the-closet raggamuffins.
Nor was I across the news that ‘catholicism created communism’; I thought the term “Godless Communist” meant something entirely different.
But I get the drift: @PropheticKleenx doesn’t like me.
I get that. I’m no saint, but I’m not the ‘nadia comanice of casuistry’ either; and I’m not always proud of what I’ve done.
I did actually ‘tweet while tipsy’ a couple of weeks ago.
I am sorry @Joe_Hildebrand, but I did enjoy the ensuing verbal tennis.
But what can you do when someone wants to exercise their freedom of speech by bombarding you with almost unintelligible tweets?
Thankfully they’re only 140 characters.
And, as I’m sure Kerry Packer used to say when people criticised the crap showing on his television station.
“If you don’t fucking like it, just turn the fucking thing off.”
He did that once to his own network in the middle of a program he didn’t like.
You can do the same with Twitterville; there’s a very useful ‘off’ switch that can stop serial pests from pestering you.
To take advantage of this very social social media function, simply go to the person’s Twitter profile and click on the’block’ button. You find it under the dropdown menu that looks like a head with an arrow down.
I just used it on @PropheticKleenx and it seems that I am not the only one s/he’s been harrassing.
Coincidentally, my mate @julieposetti had to do the same thing last week.
This really is a coincidence. I did not know about this when I started this post. I saw the block tweet from Julie only after I had completed the last step (blocking @PropheticKleenx myself)
I also recommend the same tactic for the witches of Facebook.