EU summit Twitter wall trial goes awry as Berlusconi bashers flood #euco stream

Twitter is undeniably a great way to catch the vibe on what’s going on pretty much anywhere in the world, and trending topics and search / hashtags facilitate this tremendously. Kudos to the EU for experimenting with live Twitter stream projections at official summits in that regard … but they still need to learn that moderation is important, too.

Using Tweetwall Pro, a way for event organizers to feed live tweets onto screens, an experiment in the atrium of the EU summit building in Brussels held yesterday didn’t quite proceed as planned. The live tweet stream, which was displayed on multiple plasma TVs throughout the building, was abruptly shut down after Italian Twitter users hijacked the #euco stream with anti-Berlusconi messages, calling the politician a mafioso and a pedophile.

Dana Manescu from the Council press team, who organized the trial run of the technology, told news site EUobserver:

“We had the tweet-wall up for two hours in the main hall, but it wasn’t moderated and a lot of the tweets were, well, very, very frank.”

You can find some of the tweets found by EUobserver in the article linked above, but most seemed to revolve around Berlusconi’s alleged mafia connections, recent vote-buying activities and paying for sex, among others. It didn’t stop there:

“It was insulting. People were calling him a paedophile,” Ms Manescu said. “The point was not to show insulting messages about Berlusconi. If anyone from the Italian delegation saw it, it would hurt their sensibility. It was off topic and basically spam.”

Fortunately, the whole situation didn’t scare the press team away from using Twitter in the future entirely, as Manescu said they will definitely try to do this again after careful evaluation of what went wrong.

My guess is that, considering the raw, real-time aspect of showing live tweets on screens, the experiment won’t be repeated as it was handled yesterday any time soon.

For what it’s worth, Tweetwall Pro says they have tools for live and automatic moderation in place, but says the press team didn’t feel they would need to moderate the conversation.

You live, you learn.