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The Guardian pulls its 9/11 Twitter feed

Social networking backlash for bad taste
Mon Sep 12 2011, 13:08

UK NEWS OUTLET The Guardian was forced to close a special Twitter account it set up for reporting the 10-year anniversary of the September 11 attacks after it caused outrage on the micro-blogging network.

The account @911tenyearsago barely lasted an hour before the Guardian cancelled it, with just 16 tweets of the many hundreds it clearly had planned. The idea was to cover "the events of 9/11, tweeted as they happened in 2001."

We could have told The Guardian that was a bad idea right from the start, but it found out very quickly after tweeting about the hijacking of Flight 11, Flight 77 and Flight 175, including disturbing quotations from flight attendants.

The social backlash at Twitter was swift, with many people labeling the tweets as "bad taste", "morbid", "a bad idea", "a bit weird tbh, almost eerie", and "a bit sick".

The key to the upset that the Guardian's tweets caused can be found in one user's tweet: "Sorry, Guardian, but @911tenyearsago doesn't feel right to me. There's a difference between remembering and reliving."

While many news sources have shown extensive footage of the 9/11 attacks, often in distressing detail, that's a little different from launching a special Twitter account just to recount, and indeed relive, those events minute by minute, as if they were just happening.

The Guardian swiftly realised it had made a mistake, tweeting "This account of the events is now ending", but it never made an apology to anyone who might have been offended.

In 2001 Twitter did not exist. If it had, many people likely would have found out about those terrible events as they happened via tweets. Even though 10 years have passed, memories are still very raw, and news organisations must be more responsible than the Guardian was in this instance. µ


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