Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

TWEET IN HASTE... ... and Repent at Leisure, as Addicts from Stephen Fry to Lily Allen Have Found, Writes Olivia Cole

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

TWEET IN HASTE... ... and Repent at Leisure, as Addicts from Stephen Fry to Lily Allen Have Found, Writes Olivia Cole

Article excerpt

Byline: Olivia Cole

THE OTHER week I heard Stephen Fry speak at a fundraiser at the Criterion Theatre. Twitter is "the voice of the people," he opined, a revolutionary, democratic force: "Edmund Burke termed journalists the fourth estate... Twitter is the fifth estate." Just weeks later, one complaint that his tweets were 'a bit ... boring' and he'd thrown his cyber toys out of the pram and professed he would tweet to his 800,000 followers no more. At 6am, Fry tweeted: 'Think I may have to give up on Twitter. Too much aggression and unkindness around. Pity. Well, it's been fun."

Within 12 hours, though, bashful and blushing, he was back with his nearly hourly update on life, love and what he had for breakfast.

Fry is just one of a number who have discovered that you can tweet in haste only to repent at leisure, and at the rest of the world's leisure too, as historic tweets are harder to get rid of than nuclear waste. Late-night or illthought-out tweets are the cyber equivalent of drunken dialling.

Despite the inherent risk, the Labour party now has a "twitter tsar", Kerry McCarthy MP. Her tag denotes the seriousness with which politicians have embraced Twitter's 24/7 opportunity to listen the sound of their own tweets and engage with voters. Over at the Tory party, The Spectator's diary of a Notting Hill nobody, the satirical diary of a Conservative minion, reports that all MPs are supposed to spend three hours a day on Facebook and a further three on Twitter. Parties might want us to see their tweeting members as spontaneous and modern, but the freedom allowed by constant tweeting can be disastrous. McCarthy reacted to news that the Sun would be supporting Cameron with the following tweet: "Labour doesn't need The Sun. We've got Twitter ..." only to backtrack furiously.

The most regretted tweet of all made a front-page political row. …

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