Twitter cosies up to the public sector

Opinion by Dan Raywood

Twitter has said that it wants to work more closely with the UK public sector.

Twitter has said that it wants to work more closely with the UK public sector.

As the micro-blogging site confirmed it now had more than ten million users in the UK, it told BBC News that it wanted to "work closer with government and policy makers in the UK", saying it was a priority to "protect and defend" the voice of those users.

Twitter's UK general manager Tony Wang said it is hiring a public policy manager who would work with "government, various ministries, members of parliament as well as law enforcement".

He claimed that legal issues, such as the naming of people who have taken out super-injunctions and spreading information during last year's riots, were evidence that Twitter needed to work locally and "emphasised the importance of being a global company".

As well as becoming the voice du jour of the media and the place where news is broken first (sometimes whether people like it or not), Twitter has also become one of the key communication channels for personalities, businesses and the public sector.

Quite what Twitter wants to achieve is not clear; Wang said this appointment is to work with people in government and agencies, but could it be more of a PR role in ‘what not to tweet'? Or one that takes guidance on security of the site should it face any security issues (although its move to set all users to HTTPS by default may well be a tick in the security box)?

Wang would not comment to the BBC on the Government's surveillance plans outlined in the Queen's Speech last week, saying only that its views would be "conjecture".

Bear in mind what happened when BlackBerry said it would co-operate fully with the Home Office and police following the London riots…

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