On Channel 4’s 10 O’Clock Live this evening, Charlie Brooker provided an excellent rant about Cameron’s attack on multiculturalism in the UK. As part of this, he mentioned the Twitter reaction to another popular Channel Four series, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. As I pointed out on 18 January, much of the Twitter contrail has been full of casual racism and prejudice towards Gypsies.
To illustrate this, Brooker read out some tweets, which were shown on screen.
Now, the way that Channel 4 displayed and credited the tweets which Charlie Brooker read out on screen weren’t only contrary to Twitter’s clear guidelines about use of tweets in broadcasts
Include the Twitter logo in close proximity to the Tweets for the duration that Tweets appear in broadcast. Make sure that the Twitter logo is a reasonable size in relation to the content. Include the username with each Tweet. If you have concerns about user privacy or broadcast standards, please contact us regarding exceptions unless you have a prior agreement with Twitter.
…but they also appeared to attribute the offending words to Twitter users called Phillip, Anabel and Hooligan.
But the tweets were actually by @Phil_sola82, @anaboula and @hooliganbad:
…and not, in fact, @phillip (a programmer from Portland, Oregon), @anabel (a renegade psychologist from Mexico) or @hooligan (a writer in California who hasn’t tweeted since August 2009).
So what happened here? My suspicion is that whoever prepared the research, on-screen graphics and script for that segment of the show wasn’t sufficiently familiar with Twitter to recognise that that there’s a difference between real name and username, and that they had accidentally put offensive words into the mouths of unsuspecting Twitter users.
And what’s the moral of this story? If you’re displaying tweets on screen (or for that matter, in print), be aware of the Twitter usage guidelines for media, be familiar with the product and how it’s generally used, be careful to respect the company and community and be mindful that an unintentional slip could very likely land you in hot water.
14 thoughts on “Taking care with Twitter credits”
When I saw this item, it made me wonder how this example relates to the arguments of the last couple of days regarding the PCC, Daily Mail and @Baskers’ privacy complaint.
What are your thoughts on that – is it different when only one tweet per person is quoted? Is it different because the 10 O’Clock Show didn’t show any further personal details of the individuals (or in fact, as you have noticed, no accurate details of them at all!) Or is, in fact, neither case an invasion of privacy (as the PCC ruled)?
I’m sure the person who organised the layout for the twitter segment merely avoided using the full username and stuck with ‘Phillip’ (and so on) due to the mere simplicity of calling the users by their names (albeit perhaps not their real ones). While it can cause trouble for them due to the Twitter guidelines, I don’t think this was an unintentional slip, perhaps moreso an uninformed judgement error in relation to making a segment more simple (to a certain extent). Well that’s just my take on it.
I think you’re prob right about it being the fault of someone who’s not overly familiar with twitter, but I suspect this is poss the result of a lengthy legal meeting where c4 compliance (or even prod team) have expressed concern about displaying tweets without the author’s say-so.
My guess is someone’s suggested amending the twitter username to get around having to get this sign off – prob as a result of being overly cautious and time poor (you can bet your life the final scripts/ tweets were only really submitted in the last 48 hours). And they haven’t thought of doing a quick search to see if the new ‘fictitious’ names exist.
Lack of twitter logo and @ or time stamp will be purely a result of styling from c4 I reckon (and if they’ve made up the names deliberately, it helps to take the final two off).
I could be wrong, of course…
There’s also a possibility that they used first names in order to protect the users. Publish their correct @ on air, and the users are suddenly facing an onslaught of people with internet pitchforks.
I’d say this is an unlikely option, but Channel 4 compliance teams are generally pretty mindful. Might not be quite the same for a non digital fast turnaround production, though.
Still problematic that they’ve not done proper neg-checks on the first names and thus potentially just transferred the problem – did the other users take any flak? Looks like not, so perhaps occam’s razor is in play, and it was just a fuckup.
Mis-attribution aside, while the reasons Twitter request prominent placement for their logo are obvious from their own marketing perspective, I’m not sure it’s something that would concern me.
Insistence, rather than suggestion, suggests that the user’s content is under the domain of the (corporate) medium. A troubling trend.
Kim: that’s also possible – trying to sort of half-credit the original tweeters without exposing them and in the process accidentally transferring the credit to someone else entirely. Don’t think anyone’s suffered here, but if I were at C4, I’d be talking to Twitter’s media team to find out how to credit appropriately without crediting (or how to anonymise properly) and promising to abide by the guidelines next time…
I’m not sure C4 did anything wrong, in either a legal or moral sense. Are Twitter’s guidelines enforceable in any way, especially given fair use and the recent (and in my view absolutely correct) PCC ruling?
Bobbie: you don’t think it might have been confusing? I think there’s a pretty well established understanding that when someone on TV says “Twitter user Billy…” they’re probably talking about @billy rather than a Twitter user whose real name is Billy but whose username is something totally different.
That’s what piqued my interest in the first place, actually – I was watching the programme and when Brooker read out the tweet from “Phillip” I thought “wow, he must have joined the service early” so I went to twitter.com/phillip to find out when, and quickly realised he probably wasn’t the right one.
Well, not having seen the show I can’t comment exactly on how they presented the entire package with audio and video. But no, not really. Looking at the screen caps there, it’s not presented as their Twitter user name and it feels much more like saying “Meg on Twitter said she loves ice cream” than “The user called Meg on Twitter said she loves ice cream”.
Of course some people might misinterpret that, but you’re always going to run that risk (Would those people realise that johnsmith101 on AIM isn’t the same as johnsmith101 on Twitter and so on)
Identifying the source is important, but it’s probably more important in the long run to represent the content of the message accurately (which they did).
To be honest, my scepticism largely comes from the fact that Twitter’s guidelines start off with trying to force broadcasters to give promotion to the service. I’d have no compunction ignoring that request, especially if the presenter is mentioning Twitter.
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Great thoughts, I often find that programme makers are amazed at the granular detail that’s required to get this type of pointing to the social world online from a programme right.
PS – I’ve reblogged this here http://www.megpickard.com/archive/taking-care-with-twitter-credits/
It is odd, because certainly with ‘hooligan’, he hasn’t provided a real name that they could use, it’s the same as his username.
C4 has been a bit naughty – and I’d certainly be upset if I was @hooligan (whether or not he’s tweeted since 2009), because the assumption for twitter users is definitely going to be that they’ve used the @…
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Agree with Bobbie here … I knew instantly those weren’t the real users, and it’s pretty simple if you know how, to find the real ones.
By the way, check out the ‘broadcast rules’ for Skype. I’ve never seen a British broadcaster follow them. And the public service ones wouldn’t anyway because it would conflict with the undue prominence guidelines.
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