No self-respecting NGO and campaign group would be seen these days without a Twitter account to spread the word (Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and WWF have over 200,000 followers between them for example). But Monday’s day of mass action by the Climate Camp protesters showed just how badly Twitter can backfire.

The Climate Campers set up in the grounds of the Royal Bank of Scotland corporate headquarters
on the outskirts of Edinburgh and were protesting against the bank’s
funding of fossil fuel interests – including highly CO2-intensive tar
sands in Canada. During the course of the day small bands of protesters targeted RBS-owned locations and other companies across the city.

Climate Camp had its own Twitter feed of course, but anyone browsing through the #climatecamp
hashtag would probably not have got the impression of the day’s events
that the spinsters at Climate Camp wanted. Supportive texts were swamped
by tweeters ridiculing the activists or even pretending to be them.

@oldhoborn, for example, mercilessly lampooned the campers all day for their middle-class demographic. For example:

Someone has stolen my “all property is theft” banner from #climatecamp. My mum gave me that for getting 3*A’s at Winchesterless than a minute ago via TweetDeck


Moonbeam says she never wants to come another #climatecamp and hopes the job at Barclays Private Banking is still open and her ponies are okless than a minute ago via TweetDeck

Oldholdborn also threw in a fake retweet:

RT @climatecamp: I would like to apologise for the complete mess we made today. God, I’m so ashamed #climatecampless than a minute ago via TweetDeck

Others, went for the “get a job” or “get a bath” line while @Akvavitix, had this:

Suppose it’s a bit too early to start #ClimateCamp bashing as the lazy little dears will still be hiding from the rain in their Yurtsless than a minute ago via TweetDeck

But the rather presumptuously named @wearethebritish put it most concisely:

#climatecamp got its arse owned on twitterless than a minute ago via web

He was right.

It is surprising that an organisation that puts so much emphasis on the art of manipulating the media (according to the Climate Camp media pack
journalists are “weak and cowardly” and “astoundingly unimaginative”)
did not think harder about how to use a medium that cuts out the peaky
middlemen altogether.

Posted byJames RandersonWednesday 25 August 2010 10.27 BST