A few days ago, @adebradley posed a question on twitter: he wondered what people aim to get out of a twitterstorm. The point being: is creating a kerfuffle on twitter simply preaching to the converted, as they furiously retweet?

He mentions this as someone who’s created one: a few months ago, he was with a group of people who were refused service in a pub, because they were gay. He posted a message on twitter, and cue outrage from many quarters. If it had stopped there, then the answer is probably: not much point at all.

But the news was picked up by the BBC and was posted to their website. Questions were asked of the pub’s head office, and presumably heads rolled.

Change your ways

@LauraBeddington described herself, until a few days ago, as a “magistrate who loves holidays and a nice cup of tea”. That was until @robangus investigated and found that she’s not a magistrate at all.

Her profile consists of tweets aimed mostly at celebrities telling them to change their homosexual ways. She also replies to some of the vitriolic abuse she receives by telling people they must also change.

What puzzles me is whether she’s a real person, with real views, or whether she’s deliberately being inflammatory in order to get attention. There are several clues:

  • The first is that she was fibbing about being a magistrate.
  • When someone swears at her, she simply replies: “language”.
  • When @Cedarcommune invited her “to [a] commune of lesbian, feminist separatists”, she simply asked if they served a nice cup of tea with a couple of chocolate fingers.
  • And she’s always ignored all the tweets asking if she’s a real person.

She’s clearly loving the attention.

Setting a trend

Like the fake profiles of the Queen, the Prime Minister, the deputy PM and all the others, the main aim seems to be, like many twitterstorms, to inflate the ego of those who started them. There’s nothing better than seeing your name trending on twitter – even if it’s for the briefest of moments.

In the case of the gay pub service twitterstorm, of course, being spotted by BBC journalists meant Ade’s case got reported by mainstream media. Perhaps creating a storm in the teacup that is twitter can have an effect, but it’s just as likely that no-one notices, and that actually it doesn’t really matter.

Just like when the press created a storm out of Gordon Brown’s bigoted woman, within days everyone else will have moved on.