Sunday, 29 May 2011

SUZANNE MOORE: The arrogance that says: I don't need to bother with all this Twitter nonsense | Mail Online

SUZANNE MOORE: The arrogance that says: I don't need to bother with all this Twitter nonsense

By Suzanne Moore

Last updated at 10:08 PM on 28th May 2011

My knowledge of Ryan Giggs’s activities has increased hugely over the past week. I knew zilch. And now I know about the injunction and who he has had an affair with.

I didn’t even know which team he played for, so ignorant am I about football. On such a basis then, perhaps I should be in charge of Fifa, the game’s governing body, drawing up deals, pronouncing on its values and deciding who gets to watch the World Cup and who doesn’t.

I say this because, over the past few weeks, nearly everyone who has been talking about Twitter or the power of the ‘interweb’ to bust injunctions seems proudly to know little about either. They don’t understand how injunctions work and they don’t have a clue about Twitter. Much of the debate has been entirely pointless.

I am a fan of social media – Twitter and Facebook. It’s my choice. Some people like watching television; I rarely watch TV without a computer screen in front of me at the same time, as I am often watching the commentary too. No one else has to do this or like it.

Talking point: The Ryan Giggs super injunction saga has made Twitter a massive talking point

Talking point: The Ryan Giggs super injunction saga has made Twitter a massive talking point

No one has to have a computer, but I would suggest that if you are in government or, indeed, an expert pontificating on the regulation of cyberspace, you should have at least have some idea of what you are talking about.


More from Suzanne Moore...

Technology is neutral. How we use it may not be. But use it we do. British Gas emails me to tell me to read the meter. I tried to pay someone with a cheque the other day, which seems prehistoric. Money is now virtual.

Of course, I realise that doing everything online cuts off whole communities of folk with no internet access, but I watch my kids and I see that the radical changes are not about to happen. They have happened.

This is not just about Press freedom: our whole notion of privacy changed when mobile phones took off. The way we relate to each other in public space is policed by CCTV when it’s bad and captured on phones when it’s good.

We continuously record the present but our pasts are never properly erased in the caches of cyberspace. Who owns what we tweet? Who is responsible for it? Even Twitter users aren’t as ‘super-informed’ as you might think.

Facebook logo
Twitter logo

They assumed they were somehow protected as the owners are in California. The European boss of Twitter, though, has indicated he is prepared to hand over names to the authorities.

Yet as Cameron sat on the sofa saying how ridiculous the situation was, half of Twitter had not just named Giggs but changed the photo they display to a picture of the footballer.

Was this an act of mass civil disobedience by ‘twitters’, as John Prescott memorably seethed? Surely it’s just glorified gossip made juicier by it being forbidden? But the question on regulation remains.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is warning of ‘premature regulation’, a rather telling phrase. Sarkozy wants the G8 to act, saying the internet cannot exist in a parallel universe with its own rules. (It does.) Cameron has said we won’t be intervening any time soon. (He can’t.)

Concern: Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg has warned of 'premature regulation' of social networking sites

Concern: Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg has warned of 'premature regulation' of social networking sites

What kind of regulation could work? Facebook insists users be at least 13 years old but my cat has its own Facebook page, set up by my youngest. She and her friends all use it. Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters? Social services? I am with writer Cory Doctorow, who argues that kids have always run technological rings round their elders. Look at the clunky response of dictators to their tech-savvy youth. Which side would you rather be on?

Doctorow’s answer is to teach web literacy. Yes, the web is full of stuff we don’t want kids
to see, but we should teach them to do comparative sear-ches and understand which sites are blocked.

Actually, most ten-year-olds can already do this. The adults in charge can’t.

They don’t get that Twitter didn’t bust an injunction just for the hell of it. It pointed to a need for greater transparency. The medium is the message. Those in power can’t afford to not know how this works.

What is more arrogant: to think you can ignore a huge part of the culture? Or to think someone out there might be interested in what you had for lunch? Those who think that’s all the net or Twitter are about are indeed twits.

Is life ALWAYS awful for poor old Cheryl?

Cheryl Cole: Always having a terrible time?

Simon Cowell out for himself? Who knew? Once again Cheryl Cole is cast as a miserable victim. I find it hard to comprehend any of this – and I don’t mean because of her accent.

Is this beautiful, wealthy woman ALWAYS having a terrible time? Maybe she really wasn’t feeling sexy enough and resolved to lose more weight? How dysfunctional is that?

If Cole really has been made to feel too fat and not well enough groomed for America, then surely this whole Cowell-driven X Factor shebang is past its sell-by date.

And he, not she, should call it a day.

MMR, it's a big society thing

Measles cases have risen tenfold. We need a 95 per cent uptake of the vaccine to have herd immunity. At the height of the MMR scare nine years ago, I was advised against the triple vaccine as my daughter had just nearly died from meningitis. When she recovered fully she had the vaccine, as my other kids had done.

Like other parents at the time, though, I was thrown by the Government’s refusal to engage with parental concerns about autism. This, I think, drove the panic. The theories of Dr Andrew Wakefield have since been thoroughly discredited and the vaccine is safe.

Measles can be fatal. Vaccinate your children not only so that they can be healthy but so that other children are too. There is nothing more Big Society than understanding that.

Adele: Should account for herself

Not long ago I was singing the praises of Adele. She’s unstarry, made it without pushing sex and has a great voice. She’s also famously down to earth. But having made it, she is now ‘mortified’ to be paying 50 per cent tax. She doesn’t use public transport and thinks state schools are rubbish, although she does use the NHS.

No one likes paying tax, but no one pays tax simply for what they use themselves. Adele perhaps uses roads and her relatives and friends may use schools and

hospitals. I don’t like paying my taxes to kill Afghan civilians but the richer we are the more we pay.

Poor, poor Adele is not clueless and she is certainly not poor. She should account for herself.

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It might help if you told us who Adele is, to save us having to Google it.

- Paul, Rochester UK, 29/5/2011 10:00

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"They don’t understand how injunctions work and they don’t have a clue about Twitter". --- Well whose fault is that when the judicary hides it all from view and has the common sense of a slug dying from slug repellent in the veggie patch. Family Courts and Gagging orders have been secretive for years thanks to the midless judicary and watching QT last week even that female air-head gag lawyer failed to explain it even when she had the opportunity. As for regulating Twitter or other sites, that sounds very much like 1984 to me. A crowd in a pub can gossip about some married lothario getting his leg over a hooker but twitter users might be stopped. The only difference between the groups is scale not the action of gossip. If Government tries to control gossip on twitter then it has to control it in the pub and the home and then will be at 1984.

- Mike, Alicante, 29/5/2011 08:49

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Most people, myself included, would love to pay 50% tax, since that means you earn at least around £150K. If Adele or anyone else doesn't like paying it donate enough money to charity to bring your earnings below the threshold, don't fancy that? keep your mouth shut.

- crb, glasgow, 29/5/2011 07:59

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So far I am managing to get along without Facebook or Twitter, and not simply out of arrogance. Firstly, I can see the world sinking in a sea of self-important trivia where every idiot who can type 'On holiday, wish you were here' thinks they are making an immense contribution to human thought. Secondly, these are commercial organisations and you are handing them wodges of information about yourself when you have no idea how it could be used in future. What happens if/when they are taken over by a less benign organisation? It's like sleepwalking into 1984 territory.

- Vic Bannister, Scarborough, UK, 29/5/2011 07:05

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Badly-written, ill-considered article whose author seems to have no idea what point she is trying to make, though I suspect she is simply trying to be modish.

- Kate Evans, Nottingham,England, 29/5/2011 06:22

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You're massively overstating the significance of Twitter and the like, which are in essence about yacking. The country's in dire economic straits and immigration is destroying our identity at an exponential rate. Yacking isn't going to solve things.

- Actions speak louder..., MCR, UK, 29/5/2011 01:14

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