A little birdie told me...

- Don Jaucian -

MANILA, Philippines - When we look back at the sordid history of the aughts, Twitter has got to be one of the most baffling inventions to ever grace our social media networks. It has not only reshaped the way we converse but also fuelled the fire for most delusional, self-important Z-listers and celebutards to feel that their brain farts are worthy of broadcasting all over the Internet.

But for every annoying tweeter, there’s a host of follow-worthy people that make 140-character living more bearable. If it’s not witty faux-celebrities like @superstarmarian, accounts that peddle A-grade information serve as beacons to social networking enlightenment, heightening the thrill of bungee-jumping into digital oblivion.

Supreme talked to the people behind three of the most useful Twitter accounts and distracted them long enough for a brief reprieve in their troll-fielding and tweeting spree.


How does it feel to be in charge of an important Twitter account? Do you ever feel suicidal because of the amount of Tweets that you get?

There is a big responsibility in managing a government Twitter account that has over 200,000. It is both an awesome and humbling feeling. There are moments when the team gets overwhelmed with the volume of inquiries we get, especially during rush hours and during crisis situations (flooding, major accidents, etc.). But because the team knows that what they are doing is genuine public service, they never tire of answering people’s queries.

What’s the worst tweet that you ever received?

We’ve received our fair share of hateful and irate tweets. We try not to mind the ones with curses and really demeaning words.

The one tweet that really had an influence on the team’s operations was when we mistakenly told someone that there was number coding window hours along Mckinley Road (there is no window hours in this road since it’s in Makati). The person got apprehended for number coding and she understandably got mad at @MMDA for the wrong info provided. Since this incident, we’ve taken extra measures to ensure that our replies to people are as accurate and as thought-out as possible.

Do some people use @mmda as a GPS (a.k.a. people too cheap to get one for their cars)?

We do receive route inquiries like “How do I get to UN Ave. from Timog?” or “What’s best route to take going to the airport coming from Katipunan?”. We try to answer these queries based on best information we have.

Other than these, we get queries about LRT /MRT operations, Makati internal traffic, and “may pasok ba?” tweets. Thankfully, we can now endorse such queries to the proper parties like @attycabs, Spokesperson of LRT/MRT, @MakatiTraffic for Makati traffic, and @DEPED for class suspension.

You’re only following PNoy’s Twitter account? Are other government tweeters not witty enough for you?

Our twitter account is an official government agency account. Its sole objective is public service. We want to focus all efforts on an efficient response mechanism, which might not be served if we follow other accounts.

If @mmda had a superpower what would it be?

The ability to send an Inspectorate to any location whenever someone tweets us that one of our enforcers is doing illegal activities in an area. That would be awesome. Also, the ability to automatically install our MMDA mobile app whenever someone using an iOS, Android, Blackberry, or Windows Phone device asks us about the traffic situation of a road covered by the Traffic Navigator.


How has Twitter changed the way fashionistas consume their daily fashion news fix?

Not only do they get it daily and immediately but they also get the news straight from the source. It’s also unearthed fashion cravings we didn’t know existed: Apart from industry news or product features, following style icons and fashion leaders, what they’re wearing and what they’re doing, has become quite a phenomenon.

What’s the most ridiculous inquiry someone ever tweeted you?

We do try to indulge readers when it comes to Twitter. When they know we’re at a show where they’re aware that certain celebrities might be walking [on the runway], we get requests like “Please post a picture of ____,” which certainly puts a bit of pressure on taking a good shot of that person. We even get comments about the quality of our photos like “please take clearer photos.”

Do you guys get “Pls follow back po tnx xxxx” tweets daily?

Haha! I wouldn’t say daily but yes, we get that quite often.

Fashion Week must have been a living hell for you guys. How did you manage to live tweet while maintaining focus on the runway shows? Were there cases of Red Bull involved?

Fashion Week was certainly a whirlwind of an event for us. We cover all the shows as much as possible. Practice makes perfect when it comes to live tweeting and over time we’ve come up with little tricks to caption quicker, where to sit to avoid the glare of the spotlights (though it doesn’t always work), and even keeping our phones alive longer (MiLi power crystals were our lifesavers this season).

As for keeping focus on the runway shows while tweeting, call it a love for fashion. We still manage to mentally bookmark which pieces we loved and which designers made them.

If @stylebibleph was a Sarah Geronimo song, what would it be?

Record Breaker if only because we maxed out our Tweet limits nearly every day of Fashion Week.


How has @rapplerdotcom changed the way people read news in 140 characters?

The Rappler approach is consistent across all platforms. The same values that set us apart as a news website are the same values that set us apart as a Twitter channel: emotions, personality, and conversations to name a few.

On @rapplerdotcom as well as on our Mood Meter on Rappler.com we ask people how each story makes them feel. The simple act of labeling one’s emotions makes a person more rational, that emotional connection with a story is the first step towards getting people to care.

Are there downsides to the instant access of news through Twitter?

Twitter is very fast. When Whitney Houston died earlier this year, tweets about her death were posted a full hour before the first news reports came out. There’s a danger to that however, speed sometimes comes at the cost of accuracy. As a publisher you have got to be careful about what you post, and as a consumer you have to be careful about which stories you believe and pass on. As a social news network there’s an extra burden on us to be strike a balance between the two.

How do you deal with trolls?

Rappler has a “don’t feed the trolls” policy — which I believe is the way to go, whether you are a news organization, managing your own personal brand, or handling the social media presence of an organization or company.

Not everyone with a negative reaction however is a troll. Some just feel strongly about whatever it is they are reacting to, may or may not know how to communicate these feelings in a diplomatic way, or are just very emotionally charged.

Do you sometimes get depressed when you see the trending topics in the Philippines?

Not really. Trending topics are a reflection of what people are talking about — and while at times these topics can be silly or shallow — who isn’t at times? Getting a topic to trend worldwide shows us that if done correctly, people will get involved and talk about serious issues also — not just the silly or shallow ones.

If @rapplerdotcom was an internet meme, what would it be?

If I had to pick an Internet meme to best describe Rappler it would be, “Challenge Accepted”. At Rappler we really do believe that it is possible and we love a good challenge. We have such a great team that’s full of energy, with plenty of ideas, and with the creative freedom to experiment and be on the cutting edge. We also have a great community and the right tools, with the wisdom of the crowd and technology thrown into the mix we have the formula to make it all happen. This one was really made for us, Change the World. Challenge accepted!








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