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The author

Andrew Lowdon

Senior Account Manager

In recent months I’ve started following Joey Barton on Twitter. For those of you not in the know, Joey is a footballer with a less than stellar reputation. Now I’m not here to pass judgement on Joey for some of his previous antics. I’m here to show how Joey uses Twitter to put his opinion across, how journalists are using Twitter to create stories based on Joey’s tweets and the perils of being used as social media political propaganda.

How Twitter Gives Joey A Voice

Joey Barton is a misunderstood individual; he’s not your usual footballer. He’s actually quite an eloquent guy who discusses amongst other things – politics, philosophy and of course football, championing causes close to the heart of the common man. As an avid Twitter user, Joey’s got into trouble once or twice for his misuse of Twitter, more notably leading to his exit from Newcastle United for his criticism of owner Mike Ashley. Usually this would lead to fans slating the player for disrespecting the club and the owner, and  for believing they were bigger than the club. But not in Joey’s case. Following the announcement by Newcastle in August that he was available on a free transfer, he went on Twitter to let his followers know that he wasn’t looking for a move but was being forced out by the Newcastle board and to convey the honour and pride he felt from playing for Newcastle. This allowed Joey to put his viewpoint across to the Newcastle fans where previously this wouldn’t have been possible as only the club’s view would have been heard. As Twitter has become more popular, there have been numerous sports stars that have got into trouble for their tweeting – case and point former Liverpool midfielder Ryan Babel. Joey is a prime example of how sport stars should use Twitter; he puts across his views, confounds public opinion and engages with his followers to discuss the topics close to his heart.

Journo’s Using Twitter As An Information Source

In Joey’s case, Twitter can be used to put across a point of view which otherwise may not be heard. I’ve noticed another worrying trend with Twitter – the lazy journalist. These are the journalists who source their information by following celebrities on Twitter and create a story based on a tweet, more often than not misinterpreting the tweet. These journalists can’t believe their luck that instead of going out into the field and chasing up any leads for potential stories, now all they have to do is sit at their desk and follow their Twitter feed as the celebrities talk to them. In today’s climate, is it really massively newsworthy that Joey heard a burglar attempting to break into a neighbour’s house? This isn’t an issue specific to Joey either. The Daily Mail seems to have an ongoing feature based on the tweets of the cast of The Only Way Is Essex.

Social Media Propaganda

Due to his fondness for tweeting about politics, Joey has recently had to fend off attempts by the English Defence League. Joey recently had a photo with a ‘fan’ who turned out to be the leader of the EDL, who then posted the photo on their site claiming he was a member. Through quick thinking, Joey went straight to his Twitter account to deny the allegations and state that he is not aware of the religious, political or personal beliefs or affiliations of any person who asks him for a photo in public. Are you a follower of Joey Barton? Are you surprised by the nature of his tweets and like me do you have a new found respect for Joey for this? Let me know your thoughts on this either on here or over on Twitter - @andrewlowdon.