Yes Minister, I stole the Culture Secretary's Twitter account

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As an after-thought to this weekend’s story about the UK’s Culture Secretary desire to regulate Web site content, compel sites to remove offensive material and strengthening Britain’s iron-fist libel laws online, I decided to claim his Twitter account.

Now, of course he could claim any other account and call it his own, but he won’t be able to get the name he is known by (“Andy Burnham”) because it’s in the hot little hands of a UK blogger who has the intention of educating him about the ways of the Internet – since he doesn’t seem to have quite picked up some of the essential truths that have been around since long before he became Culture Secretary.

However, the People’s Popular Front For Teaching Andy Burnham About The Internet (or “PPFFTABATI” for short) is not a violent group. We seek merely to re-educate the Minister in question.

As such, I will be using the account to follow some of the Web’s leading commentators in the UK, so that when he does want it back, it will be pre-packaged with people who can direct message him a few salient thoughts about the Web, at least before he makes policy on the hoof.

All suggestions about what to do with the account – until he notices it’s gone and asks politely for it back – are welcome in the comments below.

Update: Twitter nixed that account but we had @AndyBurnhamMP in reserve. Ready when you are Andy.

  • Josh Russell

    be sure to favourite some great tweets for him to check out once he joins in. it could give him a nice retrospective..

  • Stefan Richter

    I think Andy should tweet a lot more. And he could demonstrate how much he has learned from his mistakes, couldn’t he?

  • http://http// Ollie Parsley

    Awesome idea Mike! I think he should follow @techcrunch to get the latest web tech news :)


  • Nick

    How about a lot nudity and swearing in the content cos the internets are full of that stuff.

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  • alfie

    The strongest part of this idea is in who he follows, I think in fact that might be the totality of the exercise. The thing is, ministers are known to have “Advisors” so my suggestion is that instead of “following” someone is able to somehow get it renamed to “Advisors” – kinda like how Youtube skinned the Onion’s page about the “Actual good video on Youtube competition” to have a faux link to the comp. Probably worth dropping Biz an email to see if they could.

  • Michael Jung

    Again! Congrats!

  • Steve

    I LOVE the idea of regulating the internet, and think it should be done right after Books, parks, streets, people, news clips, newspapers, corner shops and pubs, TV commercials, Radio, and historical displays are regulated and slapped with age appropriate covers.

    Once we can nail these little things down we can being to apply the ‘thought control devices’ on new ‘citizens’ to help preserve our British way of life.

    Oh, sorry, “English” way of life!

    What? Oh sorry Scottish way of life, whew.

    What Welsh too?

    Look if we keep this up we are either going to have 60 million different standards or will end up expecting parents to be responsible adults.

    Lord knows we can’t expect THAT.

  • john

    Exactly right Steve you have hit the nail on the head.
    Oh i wish i could put a nail in the head of these prats that think they are so higher than everyone else that they can control what everyone else reads, see’s, hears, and writes.
    Go to HELL the lot of you……

  • paul

    Andy Burnham, Epic Phail of the year 2008.

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  • Will Rhodes

    What I did find interesting is how, firstly The Telegraph and then, surprisingly The Guardian blogged about and were, pretty much, in agreement – Andy Burnham is a tit!

    I blogged about it asking the very simple question – why doesn’t he, like most of us, supervise what his kids do online – isn’t that the responsible thing to do?

    If this dunce thinks that people will fall for the usual, and very outdated “Think of the Children” draconian mask – he is beyond any reasonable help. Much like his beloved ID card scheme I hope that this is shelved – but what I don’t see is the LibDem’s or Tories decrying this pathetic attempt at blocking off the net to all – do they agree with him?

  • Steve Vale

    Isn’t there a list 12,000 BNP members on the internet
    would be nice if he was found to be following all of them. Might just take a little explaining, let me know if “he” ever gets over a thousand and I’ll “out him” to The Daily Mail.

  • Dan Wilson

    The govt’s idea’s a rubbish and unworkable one. No doubt. Burnham’s position is absurd.

    Does anyone think that one of Britain’s proactive web-centric journos (Mike Butcher) could have taken a more proactive position?

    He could have led a meaningful camaign against this nonsense. I’d have been right behind that.

    Mike Butcher on cinema style ratings for websites = *I’ll steal a twitter account.* (shiny, shiny)

  • Cal

    My blog now has 500 odd pages. Some of the entries are undoubtedly unsuitable for children; on some the comments (which I don’t edit) are unsuitable and other entries would perhaps be useful.

    So what do I do? Sit down and spend hours and hours deciding which pages are 12s or 15s, under the thread of prosecution should I get it wrong? Or do I just say “stuff it” and give every page an “18” certificate?

  • Mike Butcher

    Dan Wilson – As it happens this little escapade has already been included in a Cabinet Office Minister’s letter to Burnham about his proposals. The nature of a “Campaigns” has changed a lot in the last couple of years – you should know that. Old fashioned petitions are largely dead and trad media campaigns are pretty dull. There is more than one way to skin a cat.

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  • BorkBoy

    looks like twitter has put an end to the lesson. account suspended. silly twitter!

  • a b

    good on you, andy burnham is obviously an idiot. this labour government is out of control.

  • Ross

    I wrote a short blog on this the other day (after reading the Telegraph’s article on it), and it really is a catastrophic misunderstanding of the web in general.

    To quote myself, the internet is “not a country”, it’s an “anonymous environment”. Therefore any form of regulating is going to be a bitch to handle.

    Shame Twitter decided to suspend the account, probably peer pressure as usual.

    (And the article if anyone’s interested:

  • Mike Butcher

    News update: Sadly appears to have been suspended for illegally impersonating a politician but some enterprising sole – possibly the man himself – has set up

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  • Sam

    I would dispute that with Twitter if I were you, it says in the terms that “You must not abuse, harass, threaten, impersonate or intimidate other Twitter users.”, which you weren’t really doing, unless by ‘Twitter users’ they mean ‘citizens of the planet’. It was clearly a parody with a purpose.

    These are the reasons they might suspend an account, none of which your Andy Burnham number came under, I don’t believe…:

    “One or more of these things may cause an account to be flagged for review:

    * a large number of people block the profile in question
    * a large number of people write in with spam complaints for a specific profile
    * a large number of people are followed in a short amount of time
    * the number of followers is small compared to number of people following

    * updates consist of duplicate links and/or text
    * updates consist mainly of links and not personal updates
    * updates consist solely of “re-tweets” (poaching other users’ updates)
    * updates consist of links pointing to phishing sites, malware, or other harmful material

    * a large number of accounts is created in a short amount of time
    * an account is identified as belonging to a group of spam accounts

    If one or more the items listed above is true for any Twitter profile, we may suspend the account for abuse investigation and hide the contents from the public view in order to remove the cause of complaint.

    It’s important to us that the Twitter community receives only the content they’d like to receive. While we do welcome feed-based accounts, we discourage aggressive following and other tactics that will alarm people. If you think you’ve been wrongly suspended, please send an email to with the account name and reason why the account shouldn’t be suspended.”

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