First they ignore you…


First they ignore you.
Then they laugh at you.
Then they fight you.
Then you win.

The Daily Mail’s reportage on Twitter has attracted the ire of the UK’s social media community – after a dismissive report on celebrity Twitter usage at the weekend, followed by reporting with relish about the Twitter backend hack a few days later. The result has been a mini online backlash against the Mail, including a spoof @Notdailymail_uk Twitter feed (contrary to rumour, I am not behind it), which has nearly five times as many followers as the real thing, and a spike in traffic to my own spoof Daily Mail headline generator as well.

Simon Perry points out at least one of the reasons the mainstream media can be hostile to services like Twitter – it allows celebrities to communicate directly to the public. With our help, Stephen Fry was one of the first celebrities to use Twitter and his phenomenal popularity has led a slew of British celebrities to follow suit, including Jonathan Ross, who’s making the most of his time off work by becoming Twitter’s self-proclaimed “Number One Twitter Detective”, tracking down fake profiles on his fans’ behalf.

Celebrities no longer need the intermediary of celeb magazines and gossip columns, and the Mail is among those newspapers who rely heavily on such content. Hence the hostility to Twitter. Twitter either has reached or is about to reach (a matter of recent debate between Vikki Chowney and myself) its tipping point in the UK. Just like other forms of social media in the past – such as blogs, Facebook or Wikipedia – the mainstream media are now moving on from treating it as a distraction to treating it as a threat. With outright hostility now the flavour of the day, are we beginning to see the endgame being played out? People are more likely to use online rather than newspapers in the UK and now even in the US for their news, and with the double whammy of newspaper sales declining and a recession reducing ad revenues, expect them to put up a fight to the bitter end.

Update: More in a similar vein from Matt Rhodes.

Update 2: From our very own Stephen Fry:

I’m not someone with press offices and all that kind of thing, but those like me in the public eye who have, have discovered it’s a magnificent way of cutting out the press.

If people want to announce their new this or their new that, they’re going “I’m not going to do an interview, I’m not going to sit in the Dorchester for seven days having one interviewer after another come to me, I’m just going to Tweet it, and point them to my website and forget the press”.

And the press are already struggling enough – God knows they’ve already lost their grip on news to some extent. If they lose their grip on comment and gossip and being a free PR machine as well, they’re really in trouble.

So naturally they’re simultaneously obsessed because they use it (as it fills up their column inches) but they’re also very against it.

So you’ll get an increasing number of commentators going “Aren’t you just fed up with Twitter? Oh, if Stephen Fry tells me what he’s having for breakfast one more time, I think I’ll vomit.”

They really will have a big go at it because it attacks them, it cuts them out.