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Why 'tweetbombing' might change Twitter for celebrities

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With activists spamming Twitter celebrities to raise awareness for various causes, we could end up seeing a change in the way people use the service.

new iphone twitter
new iphone twitter

Operation ShareCraft has a noble ambition — to raise $1 million in 100 days to help feed children in the Horn of Africa. But even the best of intentions can go awry. In an attempt to drum up support for the cause, Reese Leysen — community manager for professional gamer "Athene" and his popular YouTube channel — suggested that the community start tweetbombing celebrities about the campiagn. "Ask them in effective ways to spread the word or support the cause in any way possible," he wrote. Unfortunately, the tweetbombing turned into a Twitter explosion.

Boing Boing editor Xeni Jardin found herself subject to a number of messages asking for her support, so many that she asked Leysen and Athene to stop spamming her account. And the response to her lack of support was a string of hateful messages — some captured here — which ranged from calling her selfish to people saying "I hope you die." For someone like Jardin, who has recently taken to Twitter to share her experience dealing with breast cancer, constantly being subjected to spam could make her less inclined to use the service in a more personal way.

The ShareCraft team has since apologized, but as campaigns like this become more common (see Invisible Children's Kony 2012 video for another example) we could end up seeing a fundamental change in the way people with a large audience use Twitter — and it's not a change for the better.