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Friday 1 July 2011

Think Before You Tweet

[Updates at end of post]

Until this morning I had never heard of Kia Abdullah, despite her having contributed occasionally to the Guardian’s Comment Is Free strand. Now, thanks to her failing to engage brain before tweeting, everybody knows who she is. Not only that, the name of the Guardian has been dragged through the Twitter gutter, and through no fault of its actual journalists.

The backstory is straightforward: three young men on a gap year world tour have been killed in a coach crash in Thailand. Bruno Melling-Firth, Max Boomgaarden-Cook and Conrad Quashie were travelling north to Chiang Mai. All had studied at the same school in Dulwich. The cutting short of young lives is not, generally, a subject for humour, but this appears not to have occurred to Ms Abdullah.

Twitter is not known as a “micro-blogging” site for nothing: unless the Tweeter restricts access to his or her output, their feed is open and viewable by anyone, as would be a publicly viewable blog – like this one. And there are plenty of folks out there on the lookout for an excuse to indulge in a little knocking copy, especially if the target is seen as a political opponent.

Whether or not one approves of such behaviour, that’s the way it is. Papers like the Daily Mail use and churn over an increasing amount of material culled from Twitter. Paul Staines and his tame gofer Henry Cole at the Guido Fawkes blog, their pals in the right leaning part of the blogosphere (as I observed recently), are also alert to wayward Tweets.

So when Kia Abdullah – with the Guardian CiF reference in her Twitter Bio – commented “I actually smiled when I saw that they had double-barrelled surnames”, someone was bound to pick up on it. And so it came to pass: Staines and Cole trowelled it on, calling her a “Guardian class crusader”, and telling that she “laughed at [the] death of gap year kids”.

Ms Abdullah has not actually posted at Comment Is Free for over a year (the Fawkes blog calling her a “hack” is wrong, but characteristically so), but she has associated the Guardian with her moment of monumental stupidity. Perhaps she is unaware that the reference carries a responsibility with it, and is not merely some kind of accessorizing.

Apologising unreservedly afterwards was the least she could do. Perhaps, after she has had time to reflect, Kia Abdullah would do all Guardian readers and contributors a favour, by removing the paper’s reference from her Twitter Bio and leaving CiF. For a very long time.

[UPDATE 1: Kia Abdullah has now removed the Guardian CiF reference from her Twitter Bio]

[UPDATE 2 (Sunday): Anyone not previously persuaded that the Guardian reference in her Twitter Bio was other than the sole reason for the rest of the Fourth Estate to pursue Kia Abdullah need look no further than this manufactured Guardian bashing piece in the Mail. Note that she is referred to as a "newspaper journalist" (she isn't), then a "Guardian columnist" (ditto), with the headline telling that she "works for the Guardian website" (perilously close to a "Pants On Fire" rating). But then, the Mail was probably getting its story from the Guido Fawkes blog, which called Ms Abdullah a "Guardian hack" (wrong, see above). As usual, for the Mail this is about moving more papers, or in the case of its website, garnering more visitors: factual journalism does not enter. Note also that the Mail was so late with its copy that it failed to show the offending (and since deleted) Tweets, or the Guardian reference in the Twitter Bio]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While I am a big fan of much of the Guardian's content and often read the Comment is Free site - I think there is a point to be made here.

Yes Guido/the Daily Mail etc love to use opportunities like this to make lazy ad nauseum attacks and slander their left wing rivals, and yes she obviously isn't (and never has been) an employee of the Guardian.


- I imagine the reason she mentions her sporadic writing for the Guardian on her profile is she is keen to use its status as a major media player to boost her meagre reputation.

- This would appear to be an occupational hazard of the Guardian's habit of using an ever increasing number of amateur bloggers/grandstanders to write on Comment is Free. What once used to be a platform for the paper's op-eds, some extra stuff by their regular columnists and the occasional well-read piece by a think-tanker or politician on an area of special interest has now become a repository for sensationalist opinion pieces on feminism/Israel/right-wing America/the impending global socialist revolution etc that seemed designed to cause a stir and generate hits.

The moral of the story: If you lower the bar in terms of the quality and credibility of the contributors to your publication, you open yourself up to any moments of "monumental stupity" - however far down the track