Whatever happened to @towerbridge?

Tower Bridge

Whatever has happened to Tower Bridge - or rather the @towerbridge Twitter account?

It used to be rather charming and chatty, with latest news of its doings - "I am closing after the MV Dixie Queen has passed downstream."

Now it has gone all corporate and quiet, promoting events at its museum, but often saying nothing for days on end.

The original @towerbridge account was set up three years ago, when Twitter was young and carefree, a place where smart young developers could try out some new ideas.

Among those ideas, as I described on this post a while back, was getting real world objects, from the Jodrell Bank telescope, to the Isle of Wight ferry, to Tower Bridge, to tweet.

The Tower Bridge idea was from a man called Tom Armitage, who describes himself as a twenty-something games designer and technologist.

The Tower Bridge twitter bot was, he admits, completely unsanctioned by the owners of the bridge. Three years on they now seem to have decided that this was not a good state of affairs.

Back in early May the @towerbridge account suddenly said this - "Hi, we're new to Twitter. Follow us to find out what's happening in and around Tower Bridge. Did you know there's an Exhibition inside?"

The history of the account, it seemed, had been wiped clean along with all of those snippets about raising and lowering for passing vessels. It was now a promotional site for the Tower Bridge Museum.

Mr Armitage appears only to have noticed this over this last weekend - and was naturally upset. He complained vociferously about Twitter's apparent high-handedness in handing over his account to the owners of the bridge without telling him.

Then he discovered an old e-mail informing him that the account had been claimed by its rightful owner:

"Twitter responds to reports from trademark holders regarding the use of trademarks that we determine is misleading or confusing with regard to brand or business affiliation. It has come to our attention that your Twitter account is in violation of Twitter's trademark policy."

Fair enough, then. It's not surprising that Twitter responds to businesses and organisations wanting to claim back the valuable real estate that is their Twitter name - if you set up an account called @Buckinghampalace you can expect a challenge pretty rapidly from its rightful owner.

So the real questions are for the new owners of @towerbridge. What made them decide that they needed to take over the account from Tom Armitage?

Why did they wipe out all the work he had done? And when are they going to show that they can do something as interesting on Twitter as he managed?

Twitter is growing up and becoming a far more professional platform. But the danger is that it is also becoming a less friendly place to try out inventive ideas.

Rory Cellan-Jones Article written by Rory Cellan-Jones Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

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  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    @thelondonstone is the new (old) kid (stone) on the block for humorous London Tweets

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    The bot account has remained intact, with all its tweets and followers, and nobody that followed the bot account has ended up automatically following the official account, or vice versa.

    There was nothing about what Tom did with his bot that bothered Twitter or Tower Bridge, apart from using a screen name he had no right to use. What happened earlier this month (just reassignment) was inevitable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Unfortunately you have confused a Twitter account with a Twitter screen name. Twitter re-assigned the ‘TowerBridge’ screen name to the account run by representatives of the bridge itself. Tom’s bot account remained active, but with a new screen name: ‘TowerBridge_’. He has since changed it to ‘TwrBrdg_itself’.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Twitter, more dull? Surely not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    This not only stinks ethically for Twitter (as I said in my previous comment) but makes the people behind the 'real' Tower Bridge look grasping.

    Notice: The new 'owners' of @towerbridge aren't actually Tower Bridge themselves, but "[the] Leading tourist attraction situated inside Tower Bridge".

    So the new ones aren't Tower Bridge either!


Comments 5 of 16



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