Tower Bridge has fallen down

It’s so sad to see that one of the iconic London Twitter accounts, @towerbridge, has been grabbed claimed by a marketing outfit promoting the Tower Bridge Exhibition. It’s not so much the fact of the grabbing claiming–in a world where you don’t pay for membership, your rights are always going to be rather flimsy–but the manner of the switchover, facilitated by Twitter.

No notice (see update below), no courtesy, no archiving. Just taken, changed, and the new “owners” no doubt hoping it will all just slip by unnoticed. Bad luck.

Because people loved that account. Quite a lot of early adopting, influential, internet-savvy people, I suspect. The hashtag #givetowerbridgeback has already sprung up, and as I write, it’s gathering pace.

The old account, put together as an automated bit of fun by @infovore was not only whimsically, Britishly, entertaining, it also had its own rhythmic beauty–a heartbeat for the river, in some ways. It would tweet when it opened, and for which vessel, and when it closed. Open, shut. Open, shut.

Tom Armitage tells the story here about its creation, and sudden demise.

It provoked the ire of its neighbour @imlondonbridge and the resulting tussle made the columns of the Telegraph–spinning out into a whole meme about London landmarks setting up Twitter accounts to bitch about each other. (Confession: I briefly ran a foul-mouthed skyscraper which got soundly told off by an ancient stone.)

It attracted comment in the last meeting of the Mayor of London’s Digital Advisory Board, with delight voiced from the Mayor’s top-level team that such things were going on in London.

And they aren’t now. Just like that.

There’s form here: a couple of years ago I was approached by a candidate for one of London’s oldest ceremonial roles to contribute some ideas on how social media might have a part to play were he to come into office. Very progressive for an 800 year old institution, really.

I set up a Twitter account, ready for use at the right time. Sure enough, a few months back, I noticed that it had been taken into new ownership, and now sits as a blank account with zero activity and no profile picture. I’m sure it’s “official”, but that’s not really the point. It would have been nice if someone had let me know.

I let it go, but seeing what happened today, I thought I’d mention it. I won’t name it as this post is about Tower Bridge. It’s not something that came to be anyway, but it’s fairly easy to work out what it was.

Make a fuss, a small, polite, British fuss, about this one, if you will.

It’s not the way things should be done.

And information revolution or no information revolution, etiquette still matters.

UPDATE: 13 June

Tom has posted some more information: he had been contacted by Twitter, but hadn’t seen the email. There still seem to be some technical questions about the detail of the “trademark” claims, but the communication picture from Twitter doesn’t look as bad as originally painted.