Saturday, January 21, 2012

Glitter on Twitter wasn't Gary Glitter

Get ready for a shock: the Gary Glitter twitter account wasn't actually Gary Glitter at all.

I know, I know. You'll need a moment or two to process this SHOCKING NEWS.

So, what was the motivation behind pretending to be a paedophile on the internet?

To, erm, prove that the internet is full of paedophiles pretending not to be.

@OfficialGlitter was a fake account. But imagine if it hadn’t have been. I’ve got almost 20,000 followers now. That’s 20,000 people I can send private and direct messages to. That’s hundreds of thousands of photos I can view. Imagine for a second, I set up a profile saying I was a “Justin Bieber Fan Club”. How many young girls would follow me? I hazard a guess at a few thousand. The scary thing is that most parents wouldn’t bat an eye-lid at their child following a profile that seems to promote their favourite singer.
I can't help thinking that if you really don't want paedophiles lurking about misleading children, offering online advice about the best way to do it might be a little self-defeating.

The person who pretended to be Glitter - "Ben" - also fumed that his eye-catching social experiment, erm, caught people's eyes:
Another interesting point that shocked me, was how very little effort it took to get the UK Media to freely promote this fictional “comeback tour”. Supposedly trusted and reliable media sources were providing me with free publicity and promoting awareness of the fictional Glitter tour/album/book.

The following sites brought in a massive increase in followers to the page within the first 24 hours by featuring a story/article on the Twitter page:

NME Magazine, Huffington Post, The Daily Sun, The Metro, ITN, Music,,, and

How low do the media have to sink to sell newspapers or boost ratings? Do they actually have to lower themselves to promoting a convicted paedophile’s twitter page which could have potentially brought sales for Glitter’s (fictional) books or music? They would be responsible for putting money into Glitter’s pocket.
Ben seems a bit confused here. His 20,000 followers somehow proves something, he admits that a lot of those came about because of media coverage, and says that's bad, but at the same time:
I’d like to thank everyone who knew about this experiment and the people who helped me bring this matter to the public.
Didn't the main way this 'experiment' worked was by the media bringing the Glitter account to the public's attention?

Ben wanted to create a public outcry over the presence of Glitter on Twitter to make his point. Without the media covering the account, there would have been no outcry; no 'proof'. He's suggesting that the press should have ignored the Glitter account, but at the same time says it's great that there was an anti-Glitter furore. It's a bit like this hadn't really been thought through, isn't it?

And surely the notoriety of Glitter meant "his" account got attention in the way a common-or-garden paediophile (even one being Justin Beiber's fan club) would never have picked up? Doesn't that undermine the claims?

More to the point, most of the positive followers appear to be older people with a nostalgic connection to Glitter. However much you might worry about their taste and ethics, this account wasn't proving to be a massive lure to children. What exactly did Ben think he's proved here?

Ben rails at the media promoting the tour and book and music of his made-up Gadd. But didn't his account also promote Glitter's music? Won't he have sparked a few sales and put a few quid in the old man's pockets just by his work alone?

More worryingly for Ben, he also revealed there's a lot of people in the UK who feel excited at the idea of a Glitter tour. He might have thought he was making a point about creeps online. Instead, he's done some valuable market research to help prep a Glitter comeback. Good work, Ben.


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