#dontreadthedailymail Day started out as an attempt to parody those well-intended but ultimately futile Twitter protests which happen on a daily basis. #TwitterSilence was my main aim – a valid statement but executed poorly and with a terrifying backlash. I thought that a campaign to ignore something that my audience already ignored, and in doing so draw more attention to it reflected quite well the ultimately futile nature of social media protest. I also quite liked that, as with #TwitterSilence, the very nature of the campaign meant I couldn’t be an active participant in it.
I thought the idea was valid, though. The Mail has a reach and reputation far exceeding what it deserves, and much of that is from angry liberals like me pushing it out into the world. I’m always far happier when not thinking about it, so everyone else probably is too. I figured that trying to have a nicer day was a innovative twist on the general opposition to the Mail that usually exists on social media.
September 24th is not only the 3rd birthday of the account, but also my own birthday. If it all went horribly wrong I could have at least taken solace in the joke of having done all of this just to get a day off. I honestly didn’t know how it was going to go – die a death, trend all day, cause a backlash, give the DM more hits or provoke debate. It could have just been very meh and gone largely unnoticed.
In the end I think it went pretty well – the website got nearly 6000 views across the 23rd and 24th and we trended the topic a couple of times too. There was plenty of action on the hashtag from people who didn’t follow me, and I only picked up about 50 new followers which suggests it was seen as a Twitter thing and not a DMReporter thing.
There was a minor backlash of outrage that we appeared to be telling people how to live their lives, which was inevitable, and a huge number of people pointing out that the Mail was more prominent in their feeds as a result of the hashtag, which is something you just can’t avoid. We had some much appreciated tweets or RT’s from Mark Gatiss, Rufus Hound, Robert Llewellyn and the masterful Annabel Giles who helped push up the awareness.
Props must go to Daily Mail showbiz reporter Emma Lowe for being cool about the day, and for actually defending it on Facebook.
In retrospect I think a 7 day lead in was too long as it fatigued the idea and that the ‘dontread’ part of the hashtag was too negative and didn’t push the idea across properly. Maybe next year I’ll change it to ‘ignorethedailymail’ instead.
I doubt very much that it had much of an effect on the Mail’s click rate for the day – either positive or negative. I have no idea how you would harvest that information anyway, but if anyone on the inside is privy to it then get in touch. Anonymity guaranteed.
Affecting the click rate wasn’t the main point anyway; the intention was to give people a nicer day by reducing the Mail’s digital reach and if you feel that your day was a little more cheerier and a little less provocative then I’d consider it a win. Lots of people are saying so on Twitter, and that’s always nice to read.
I’ve Storified some of the best tweets here and if you took part yesterday, in any capacity, then thank you. I’m thinking the next campaign should be encourage Lauren Laverne to follow me again. Come back Lauren, I’m sorry for the joke about the Sunderland unemployed, I miss you…
Until next year.
PS: The Short List had a good little feature on the hashtag, you can read it here: http://www.shortlist.com/cool-stuff/the-twitter-index-15
I’m going to have a nicer day today and not read the Daily Mail, and not post jokes about it either. I’ve outlined a few reasons here. Just in case this idea is weirdly popular and lots of people suddenly rush here with comments, or complaints, or violent death threats I thought I’d say a few things.
- I’m not suggesting anyone should stop buying the Mail if it’s their paper of choice. This isn’t a preachy behaviour change thing. It’s for the rest of us with a morbid fascination based on liberal outrage and who give in to their linkbait. I genuinely think we’ll have a nicer day without it.
- Yes, it’s ultimately futile – but so are almost all Twitter protests. It doesn’t mean the intentions aren’t well founded. Consider it an interesting experiment.
- I know I’m preaching to the converted – but that’s the point. We all don’t buy it but it still infects our conciousness. Let’s ditch it, consciously, for the day.
- I am well-aware of the irony of drawing attention to something to ignore it, thankyouverymuch. I think I was trying to suggest something about the duality of man, sir.
- The internet is a playground, to borrow a phrase, don’t take anything too seriously.
Incidentally, if this whole thing flops horribly then I’d appreciate it if you’d disregard this post as the self-inflated windbaggery of a pompous fool.
Have a nicer day.
What I thought would happen was that it would become a mixture of those who got the satire and those that didn’t – I thought we’d have some kind of meta-Poe’s Law hashtag burst for a while and we’d all learn a lesson about how ridiculous the attacks on benefit claimants really are.
What actually happened was that virtually everyone got the joke immediately, and then promptly ran with it in a way that was far funnier, far more honest and far more sincere than I ever expected.
It actually became rather beautiful, with people sharing their stories and experiences of being on benefits with a sense of humour and self-awareness that could never be found behind a thousand closed doors in Westminster.
It also solidified for me the sensation that the public aren’t blind to the divide and conquer tactics of the government, nor the endless negative propaganda being peddled by the papers. When the BBC starts going down the line of asking if Mick Philpott is representational of JSA claimants you know we’re in trouble, but the public seem well aware of how bullshitty this all really is. I think everyone did good today.
These are my pick of the tweets –> #banbenefits
No, we weren’t hacked. It was a joke, what with Twitter being in news over being hacked and all. Thanks to everyone who joined in, willingly or unwillingly. It was a lot of fun.
The roots of this idea came from another parody account I set up a while ago that never really went anywhere, mainly because I didn’t have the time to pay attention to it and only a few tweets in it had already begun to feel repetitive.
That account was @protestm0vement and was a direct reaction to @protestmovement who tweet the most backward, illogical, moronic, counter-productive stabs at protest I’ve ever seen. These are the sort of people whose singular inability to grasp any of the central issues they tweet about actually harm their argument.
Thus when Twitter was hacked it seemed a perfect time to go back to that idea, but with a much larger audience.
There is another point though, which has been a theme of ours for a while – never ever trust anything you read on Twitter. We love our followers very dearly and are genuinely thankful for the attention they give us, but I’m kind of amazed that as many people believed it as they did.
How can we legitimately combat the misinformation and underhanded techniques of the real Daily Mail if something as obviously fake as our ‘hack’ is taken at face value? We all do it, we all read tweets that seem to justify our pre-existing opinion and we take those tweets as fact – but the truth is that unless there is a link to a verified and legitimate source then it shouldn’t be trusted.
We weren’t out to make fools of anybody and we’re not trolling for more followers – we’re just trying to find new ways to keep the account fresh, and poke fun at some other targets in the process. If you did fall for it, though, don’t feel bad. Yesterday we tweeted
GAY MARRIAGE: Conservatives insist “it’s Adam and Eve, not an all-you-can-eat cock buffet.”
…and someone still thought it was real.
Sometimes, during the course of our day writing jokes, we’re required to visit the Daily Mail website or use their app. Sometimes, we leave comments. We’re not saying it’s big, we’re not saying it’s clever, we’re not even saying it’s funny… but here are some of them:
I’d love to be able to say there’s some kind of conclusion that can be reached from these, but I’m not sure there is. DM readers are, in many cases, quite savvy and they can spot deliberate attempts to mock or offend with ease. Much of it depends on context, and often our deliberate attempts to wind people up are ignored in favour of far worse (and, one assumes, far more serious) comments.
Truth be told – there’s very little that we can write that wouldn’t be spotted by a moderator that isn’t already present somewhere else on the site. It’s like going to a KKK rally and trying to be more racist than those present. It just doesn’t work.
In other news, we’re taking a break for a little while. There’s only so long you can stare into the abyss before you realise the abyss is staring back at you, and choking every last semblance of dignity and compassion from your soul. Which, when you think about it, explains Peter Hitchens perfectly.
We’ll be back soon enough.