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Man arrested for refusing to use Twitter

TwitterFurther proof, if proof were needed, of the fundamental stupidity of social networking, the music industry and the world: a record label executive has been arrested for not using Twitter. Yes, you read that right.

When a 15-year-old Canadian singer named Justin Bieber was scheduled for an album signing in Long Island, the teen idol's fans were inexplicably pleased by the news. So pleased, in fact, that 3,000 of them turned up at the venue and promptly started a riot.

Crowd-control police, choosing an inopportune moment to demonstrate that they were down with the kids, reportedly 'invited' the senior vice president of Bieber's label, one James Roppo, to send out a message on Twitter to inform the screaming girls that the signing was off. He refused.

The fans continued to riot, five people (including a police officer) were injured, and the exec was arrested for felony assault, endangering the welfare of a child, obstruction of governmental administration, reckless endangerment and criminal nuisance. Roppo has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

We don't wish to excuse the organisational blunders that led to several thousand teenagers rioting in a confined space on a second-floor balcony - witnesses stated they were pressed up against a safety railing so hard that it bent - and there's nothing barmy or Kafka-esque about calling to account whoever was responsible for creating a situation that could have been far bloodier than it actually was. But picking out the guy who refused to send a tweet? Come on.

For one thing, rioters (and, for that matter, teenage girls) are by definition irrational. They're not going to check their smartphones and change their minds about the whole thing when they see that the signing has been cancelled. Furthermore, if that information would have been enough, what was wrong with a megaphone? Just because the technology exists to do something, it doesn't mean it's a good idea.

Twitter is a medium: no more, no less. It has some advantages as a medium, but ultimately what you say is more important than the medium you use to say it. And if your message is weak ("crowd: please disperse"), it doesn't matter whether you use Twitter, megaphone or carrier pigeon.

PC Advisor and the writer of this blog can both be followed on Twitter

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