News and views from north Bristol's urban village

Friday, 19 June 2009

Twitter Power Takes on the Daily Mail

Am sitting in my office chuckling to myself as I watch a conspiracy take place in the Twittersphere.

Tweets have been appearing all afternoon inviting participants to vote in a Daily Mail online poll which asks one of the more obnoxious questions I have seen in a national newspaper for some time: Should the NHS allow gipsies to jump the queue?

The poll follows a rather unpleasant article from man-of-the-people Richard Littlejohn in which he reports on and then criticises an apparent NHS policy to allow members of the "mobile community" (caravans, not phones) to receive priority appointments at GP clinics.

Tweeters have been seeking to skew the results of the poll by exhorting each other to vote "yes" to the question in large numbers, thereby pouring scorn on the Mail's perceived populist fear-mongering.

The original tweet seems to track back as far as the enigmatic Infobunny, a London-based law librarian who keeps her tweets private, and the campaign has gathered momentum throughout the day as twitter-ers have encouraged each other to use different browsers in order to cast more votes.

By 3 pm, 92% of the pollsters had voted "yes", that they did in fact want gypsies to be allowed to jump the queue in doctor's surgeries, a result that may come as something of a surprise to the Daily Mail editorial board.

Although it is comforting to know that it is not only Iranians who can influence politics through twitter, this very British piece of jolly good fun should also be a rebuke to the Mail about the dangers of stirring up communal jealousies - especially in a week which has seen 100 Roma forcibly removed from their homes in a wave of xenophobia in Belfast.

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