Tuesday, 11 August 2015


The complexities of social media

AXMINSTER Town Council never seem to be too far from controversy these days. 

The latest incident to ruffle the feathers down at the Guildhall concerns, what was to me, a somewhat innocuous tweet. 

Said communiqué from Councillor Hayward referenced a lyric – “It’s gettin’ hot in here” – from a track by American rap artist Nelly. 

Now, if you were to hunt down and watch the accompanying video to the song – ‘Hot In Herre’ – you’d find it contains a fair share of naked flesh and that it’s unlikely to be shown on daytime TV anytime soon. 

So, said tweet came with the hashtag warning #NSFW – meaning “Not Suitable For Work”. Which perfectly sums up the ‘Hot In Herre’ video. 

Was it inappropriate for a councillor to be referencing said track in a council related tweet? Probably. 

Was it a bit odd he chose to do so in the first place? Definitely.

But fellow councillors went on to accuse Councillor Hayward of sending a tweet “of a pornographic nature” – is that really true?

For starters, a hashtag isn’t really a link at all - it’s a label used on social media to group together messages with a similar theme. 

And, bearing in mind this hashtag is used to signify material “Not Suitable For Work”, what do you expect to find if you search for examples of tweets marked #NSFW?

Whether or not you deem Nelly’s video as pornography, the fact is the offending tweet didn’t include a traditional hyperlink to either that video or anything else for that matter.

Now, if all this talk of tweets and hashtags is making you feel very old and yearning for the simpler, more innocent times of the 20th century – I’m with you. 

But if you obviously don’t understand something, why pretend you do and accuse someone of something so serious? 

In my mind, all Councillor Hayward is guilty of here is making me recall a rather annoying Top Five hit from 13 years ago.          

JAMES COLES

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