Today was a perfect example of the power of social media to report on an event faster than any media outlet, even when what just happened isn’t exactly clear. I knew that the questioning of the Murdochs was going on by the British Parliament and comments coming in from Twitter were filled with snarky comments about how neither of them seemed to be able to recall anything. Then, all of a sudden there was one comment saying, “What the heck just happened?”
With one comment like that, it could have been anything, but then I saw a few dozen people I follow on twitter essentially say exactly the same thing, “What just happened?” I knew something was up. People I follow on both sides of the Atlantic were in shock, so I knew something was up. I brought up the BBC’s coverage of the questioning and there was just a still image with some garbled audio in the background. Then comments started to circulate about how someone had attacked Rupert Murdoch. Whether you love him or hate him, an attack on a powerful business person while being questioned by Parliament is a serious accusation. Then it all became clear with one word: #splat
A protester managed to shove a cream pie in Rupert Murdoch’s face. How he managed to get a pie into the hearing is a matter I’m sure that British security are still trying to determine, but with Murdoch unhurt, it had me marveling over something beyond the logistics of smuggling a cream pie into Parliament, namely how fast all of this went down on Twitter. It was literally a matter of minutes from the time it went from people being bored with the stonewalling during questioning, to shock, to everyone knowing not only what happened, but also who did it, and then back to disgust with the questioning.
Ultimately, is being hit in the face with a pie a big deal? I guess it is if you’re on the receiving end of the pie, but today’s events were just one more reminder of the power of Twitter during an event of international interest.