Yesterday, News International announced that News of the World will shut down after this Sunday’s final edition. This is the final nail in the coffin after a week of public backlash against revelations of phone hacking. But it’s how the public backlash voiced itself that’s got my digital ears pricked.
As revelations surfaced of phone hacking on Milly Dowlers mobile, Twitter began to grumble. As more incidences came to light the hashtag trends pushed it as a trending topic. As it was announced that News of the World was to shut, Twitter was at breaking point and followers in other countries started to ask questions.
This BBC article details the origins of how the story, and backlash, began on Twitter. It also details how major advertisers pulled out of the paper because of the backlash. Some even posted their press releases to Twitter to explain why.
So did social help bring down News of the World?
I would argue yes. Social is the new ‘angry mob’. It’s the loudest ‘silent protest’. In a society where we’re used to seeing riots and marches on an almost weekly basis, this violence free approach to protest should pave the way forward for hitting corporations where it hurts. (That makes it sound like Twitter is the new Fight Club, but you can talk about Twitter Club.)
To quote Rage Against the Machine, ‘we’re gonna take the power back’. Speaking of Rage Against the Machine, look at the Christmas race to number one that happened to de-thrown the X Factor juggernaut from yet another victory. Social media protest has worked before and has again.
As Simon Pegg put it on Twitter this morning, “To put the #NotW thing in bastardised geek speak … “Sometimes the needs of the many [are outweighed] by the needs of the few, or the one.”
I would love to hear what you think – did social help bring down News of the World?