Twitter Gary Glitter

All that Glitters...

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By Stephen Lepitak, -

January 22, 2012 | 5 min read

The Drum's news editor, Stephen Lepitak, discusses the setting up of @officialglitter, on Twitter and the issues that, what turned out to be, the social experiment really highlighted for the social media service.

I didn’t exactly fall off of my seat on Saturday morning when I read that, what claimed to be the Official Twitter account of Gary Glitter, had in fact, turned out to be a fake. It did seem a strange move that a man, who has attempted to avoid public attention since his crimes came to light, would put himself into a medium where he would need to deal with the unavoidable abuse personally.

Convicted paedophiles don’t usually receive a red carpet welcome in social media, especially when they’re world famous.

I did actually tweet the account on Wednesday, thinking it a hoax, to ask what they hoped to achieve after setting up the account, but never recieved a response.

That the person behind the @OfficialGlitter account has now explained that the whole point of the account was a ‘social experiment’, is slightly more of a surprise, and while this hasn’t exactly gone down well with the Twitterverse either, their point is a good one.

The person behind the account, identified as ‘Ben’, explained: “I set this Twitter account up as a social experiment to highlight the dangers and safety of children using the social networking sites and to discover and question public morality.

'”It's been an interesting and eye-opening experience for me.”

I have to admit on Wednesday to coming over all ‘Daily Mail’ and wondered what the world was coming to that Glitter, if it was indeed he, be allowed to have his own account. I contacted Twitter’s press office to find out if they had any plans to remove him or were monitoring his account. Twitter said it had a policy of not commenting on individual accounts and pointed me towards their terms and conditions.

The ‘T’s & C’s’ do state that Twitter “reserves the right at all times (but will not have an obligation) to remove or refuse to distribute any Content on the Services and to terminate users or reclaim usernames.” To my knowledge however, only fake accounts have been removed by Twitter, but I don’t claim to know that for a fact.

Twitter has been criticised by parent groups in the past for an apparent lack of protection for younger users from being contacted by such predatory men as Glitter. I believe that it is an issue the service must address, but I won’t pretend to know exactly what it should do without resorting to vetting every person who signs up. That really would be me going all ‘Daily Mail’.

I discussed the issue with renowned Twitter consultant Mark Shaw, prior to the revelation that it was indeed a fake account.

Shaw told me that he rather that such men were under a spotlight, rather than hiding away doing God-knows-what or using false names, offering them a lot more freedom to manoeuvre.

He agreed though, Twitter could have a real issue, and also said that it was probable that convicted sex offenders were using the service for their own means already.

Shaw made another great point, that should Twitter have removed the Glitter account due to his criminal record, it would be a precedent without parameters. Where would it stop? Would everyone with a criminal past therefore be excluded from the service?

This is something that the company needs to consider. It’s only a matter of time, unfortunately, before a crime is committed in which the perpetrator will cite Twitter as the place where they were given access to a victim or met with likeminded people.

The site needs to prepare for that eventuality. It’s Terms and Conditions don’t even scratch the surface, and Shaw also agreed that they need updating.

I love Twitter and don’t want it to change. Hopefully its community, which often self-polices, will be tight enough to avoid any such crime being committed the world over.

Twitter Gary Glitter

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