Politics.co.uk Blog

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Twitter makes the news again

Some things in life are so simple, you just don't get them at first. That's the way with Twitter, which initially seemed just a glorified version of Facebook updates.

But this summer the social media tool really has come of age. It began with the #welovetheNHS tag. After first noticing it that morning, I watched the tweets build up by their hundreds every second, like microbes in a Petri dish. By the time of the Labour conference in Brighton, the event had turned into a key talking point. The level of support the NHS received on Twitter was a major event for Labour strategists, and initially Gordon Brown and Andy Burnham used it well. By the time they were persistently drumming on about it months later, they were of course using it less well, but that's the thing with politicians – they never get it right for long.

Then we discovered Sarah Brown had more followers than anyone else in Britain, a fact which presumably had something to do with her appearance introducing the prime minister – again – for his keynote Labour speech.

But today, Twitter changed facts on the ground. We'll never know for sure, but it looks like the vociferous reaction to the injunction placed on the Guardian preventing it from reporting on a parliamentary question may have broken the legal attempt to gag the newspaper. Social media or people power? Both. Twitter is becoming more pivotal to the political process every day.

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