Twitter is a fantastic resource for journalists. Information in its simplest and purest form is splashed over the micro-blogging site within seconds of an event happening. However, it also leaves a lot of room for abuse, discrepancies and libellous comments.
I write this article in the wake of a bizarre argument between myself, a woman who has constructed a career from analysing canine behaviour - what I assume is called 'dog whispering' to those of us out of the loop - and The Only Way is Essex 'extra' Maria Fowler.
My casual viewing of The Only Way is Essex - often shortened to TOWIE - has allowed me to profile each of the characters to a reasonable extent and I feel I have a good idea of each of the 'stars' roles. A general rule for those who don't watch: The female characters open salons or launch lingerie collections as a seemingly easy way out of their educational failings, and/or to avoid becoming a model, having to completely admit intellectual defeat. The men desire more money for contemporary flats and Vo5 hair wax.
Maria was the subject of my favourite line throughout the last series; it came from Kirk Norcross, the only character who I feel isn't completely moronic and received a Brentwood nightclub for his birthday one year. After falling out with Fowler, he shouted "oi, just up you, you're just a f***ing extra" and stormed off. Fantastic television all round, particularly for the ironic viewer.
Interestingly, my partner uses Twitter a lot for celebrity chats, and occasionally will receive a mention from some of whom she speaks to. That's fine, but after giving criticism to Fowler about her hair style, - I know, I know - Fowler hit back in front of 126,000 followers calling her a hypocrite - implying her hair is awful - and that she is a goat (see picture). Hmm...
Google defines libel as the following: "A published false statement that is damaging to a person's reputation; a written defamation."
1. She is not a goat.
2. As we have discovered in recent times, social media is covered by publishing law
3. Publically stating that to 126,000 followers could well be damaging to somebody's reputation as she is in the public eye.
I informed Fowler of this upon learning of the tweet, she replied saying she didn't care and reiterated that she is a goat (see the picture, again).
This bizarre behaviour made me question ITV in why they aren't giving its Grammy-award-winning reality stars some kind of PR training.
Anyway, I checked out her previous tweets - I of course, refuse to follow her and most other 'celebrities' - I came across her tweets to other fans where she had sworn at them and been plain offensive (see picture a final time).
These are the people that made you famous, Maria. I have no doubt in my mind that you would be another everyday Essex girl had you not been picked up by ITV.
I find it hard to believe that an ex-page-3-model, constant whiner - at least in the show - and typical Essex girl, although originally from Derby, has never said anything bad about another woman's hairstyle and can therefore justify a personal attack on a fan.
Now, I never judge a person based on their career, it's not right and it's bad karma. However, when a 'Dog Behaviourist' - yes, really - launches an attack on me for calling out Maria's libellous tweet, I can't resist going on first impressions.
The woman tweeted me four times in the time it took me to reply once and kept saying how I used social media incorrectly and that all I do is bully celebrities. I have never, ever - ok maybe once or twice - sent a tweet to a celebrity and certainly not anything negative.
All the tweets are on my public profile on Twitter @JamieNewsroom so you can make your own minds up in regard to what is an ethical way for a celebrity to act. It does pose the - annoyingly repetitive - question about how celebrities should conduct themselves on Twitter and other social networking sites.
My partner doesn't wish to take any legal action of any kind and finds the ordeal increasingly funny, as do I.