A tweet from the Jester-in-Exile, got me to ask, “did Filipino Twitters gang up on Willie Revillame?”
Willing Willie Revillame on television said, “Para ho maintindihan nyong lahat kasi grabe na akong tirahin sa dyaryo, sa Inquirer, sa internet, sa twitter. Para gusto nila mamatay na ako sa mundo– para mawala na ako sa mundong ito. Ganon ho ang ginagawa sa akin ngayon.”
The story broke on Social Media and has seen it spread. The DSWD, and the MRTCB got involved. And advertisers have since left the show, and some advertisers even pulling out their ads on all game shows.
This incident reminded me of that Pepsi suicide ad made by BBDO, which Pepsi pulled after an angry reaction on Twitter. This happened in 2008, when twitter was quite young and wasn’t mainstream. Christine Lu, an American entrepreneur tweeted, “pepsi: you want to push the envelope? try something that doesn’t remind me of my sister killing herself a month after her own wedding.”
BNET’s take at the time, “In hindsight, was the Motrin Moms ad really all that offensive? Nope. Corporate Twitter apologies are a fad because most advertisers are afraid of a technology they don’t yet fully understand. The really interesting bit will be when a company gets on Twitter and defends its ads in the face of criticism.”
Fast forward to 2011 in the Philippines it would seem Twitter has gone mainstream. @jimparedes and others were mentioned by Mr. Revillame as some of the people ganging up on him on twitter. Mr. Paredes, Bianca Gonzales (@iamsuperbianca), Carmela Brosas (@kbrosas) have received a death threat on twitter based on their stance against Mr. Revillame. And Mr. Revillame threatened to sue people on Twitter.
Twitter over the years has been described many things. It is like an Internet Relay Chat for the masses. It has been called, “Batsignal,” and “newswire,” over the years. It can be like one giant party; loud, and it could be a place where protest occurs. It can be elegant like a dinner party, or more humdrum like a coffee chat online between friends. And now, a conversation happens.
Twitter is a media company. It gives us news. And suddenly people everywhere are opinion-makers and tastemakers. Twitter has become short-form opinion writing, and millions of people suddenly become gadfly– someone who provokes others into action by criticism.
Clay Shirky pointed out that “Communications tools don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring,” and now they have become socially interesting. What begins online is slowly translating to things happening on the ground, and in the Philippines case, has gotten Government to act on Willie Revillame. Shirky in his book, Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, wrote, “When we change the way we communicate, we change society .”
Did Filipino Twitters gang up on Willie Revillame? How different is this from expressing our right to Freedom of expression, of speech, and Freedom of assembly when something we perceive is a grievance?
Put it another way, “Social media is the art of filtering noise, and amplifying Truth and Justice.” And we are reminded that the Everyman now has a voice with the tools at his disposal. When once people, corporations and governments had to contend with just Newspapers, columnists, talk show hosts, television and radio hosts, they now have to look at a million people and the combined power of trending topics. Suddenly, social media– blogs, social networking, and youtube— have amplified millions of news writers, Op-Ed columnists, and talk show jocks, but this medium is transformative in that a conversation happens, when action takes place because of the conversation happening on social media.
Welcome to the 21st Century, and Internet Freedom.