September 11, ten years on and the media coverage is extensive as people remember and pay respects to those who lost their lives. Each of the media owners are trying to have their own unique take on the 10 year anniversary and the Guardian are no different. Today they launched a Twitter account- @911tenyearsago, which they describe as “The events of 9/11, tweeted as they happened in 2001.” In effect, this is a real-time feed of tweets/commentary as the events unfolded. 16 tweets in, the feed ended.
Run a quick search of mentions for the account and you can see how badly this has been received by the public:
“This is just unnecessary in the extreme. Stupid idea from the Guardian. What’s the point? @911tenyearsago”
“Not really sure about the Guardian’s @911tenyearsago thing either. Just all a bit OTT. Think there are better ways to respect the dead.”
“Want to see the very definition of a bad idea? I suggest you look at @911tenyearsago. 9/11 minute by minute, as if we’d had Twitter.”
The Guardian stopped the account around an hour after it’s launch due to huge backlash from the social media community. Now there isn’t even any reference to this on their 9/11 microsite. This has opened up a huge debate on Twitter- were the Guardian wrong? Is this in bad taste? There is praise from some, who were enjoying this objective interpretation of the events:
“Did @911tenyearsago stop because of complaints? I was enjoying that. It put things in perspective better than all the personal accounts.”
Whilst others are defending the Guardian’s actions as no different to other media companies that are tweeting and running footage as if it were live:
“Everyone up in arms about Guardian’s @911tenyearsago, no one bothered about @AP doing same thing?”
I must admit, I do feel sorry for the social media exec that came up with the concept for the Guardian and I am shocked that they couldn’t recognise the repercussions this could (and did) have. For me, part of the idea is genius – this is exactly what Twitter is- delivering news to the masses as it happens in real-time. However, the presentation of this account is what has failed. If the Guardian have tweeted events from their own account (as the Associated Press have) we wouldn’t have seen such uproar.
In my opinion, the Guardian we’re right to listen to the public and pull the account. People want to remember the events of 9/11 – not relive them.