Thursday, May 21, 2009

Another reason not to take Twitter seriously: Microblogging cat has 500,000 followers

One week, actor-model Ashton Kutcher is calling Twitter “as significant and paradigm-shifting as the invention of Morse code, the telephone, radio, television or the personal computer.”
The next week, a microblogging cat named Sockington – “Socks” for short – signs up more than 500,000 followers who want to read his thoughts on cat naps and fur balls. (Here's his Twitter page.)
Kutcher is now the second dumbest creature using Twitter.
An Associated Press story on Socks says this about the implications of a twittering tomcat:
There’s the risk that a tweeting cat will only further the impression that Twitter is a flash-in-the-pan success in a sea of online time-wasters. But in a way, Sockington is a parody of Twitter, where even a kitty cat's life – his daily trips to the litter box, his insignificant household travails – is beamed out to the world.
Parodying Twitter has become a national pastime, pitting those who love the service against those who think it’s absurdly stupid. The anti-Twitter movement reminds me of the backlash that ultimately destroyed disco in the ‘70s. Some people loved the disco scene, but even more rose up to criticize it as a fashion and musical travesty.
I’ve chronicled the Twitter backlash on Tech-Media-Tainment – from humorous videos to political cartoons. I’ve also pointed out the many abandoned and fake Twitter accounts (historical figures, body parts, and characters from cartoons, movies and TV shows).
But the AP article points to another large set of Twitter users – people posting 140-character tweets as their pets. I’m not sure if that’s cute or sad.
It reminds me of the classic cartoon from The New Yorker with the caption, “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”
Then there’s the whole Patrick Swayze episode from this week that highlighted Twitter’s ability to spread false news stories quickly. A Florida radio station posted a message on Twitter that said the actor had lost his battle with pancreatic cancer and was dead at age 56, according to Reuters. Not true.
And not a great week for Twitter’s reputation.

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