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Paper Monitor

11:51 UK time, Monday, 8 November 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Lily Allen, Stephen Fry, Demi Moore, Jonathan Ross - watch out. You have competition. The Twitterati has a new recruit.

The social networking site already treats us to the views, musings and occasional hissy fits of a range of celebrities - and, PM notes with no little satisfaction, newspaper columnists such as Caitlin Moran, Charlie Brooker and Giles Coren (this service is far too self-effacing to similarly big up @BBC_Magazine).

Now, however, Twitter has a fresh face to follow: former prime minister Gordon Brown.

It's true, the one-time occupant of both 10 and 11 Downing Street has a less-than-auspicious relationship with new media. His appearances on YouTube while in office were, after all, widely ridiculed.

But he does happen to be married to Sarah Brown, aka @SarahBrownUK, one of Britain's most popular tweeters with over a million followers.

With the ex-premier having been largely silent since leaving office - save for a recent intervention to defend shipyard orders during his tenure - his brief "guest editing" slot on Mrs Brown's page to coincide with Burma's elections attracts considerable attention.

It is, of course, attention shaped by each publication's prior impressions of the Brown era.

Hence the Daily Telegraph's report opens with the observation that he "faced a barrage of abuse from other users", patiently listing a selection: "You're (still) an absolute disgrace", "if you're going to be an MP, will you please attend parliamentary sessions regularly" and "erm, who really is interested in the ramblings of the worst PM since Eden?"

The Guardian is, predictably, kinder, reporting that, although Mr Brown was a "tentative tweeter", Burma Campaign UK was "delighted" with the publicity. It also notes that his wife's account picked up 1,000 new followers during an hour of his guest tenure.

Nonetheless, there are implicit warnings about the hazards of the medium in the same paper's interview with pop star and uber-tweeter Lily Allen.

Ms Allen says she has resumed tweeting after a self-imposed break - "but not on the scale I used to, nothing like. I don't let it be a bit part of my life".

Are you listening, Mr Brown? An even more cautionary tale appears in the Sun, chronicling the abuse comedian Jason Manford has received from his pregnant wife after he was caught sending "sleazy messages" via the site to "busty Debra McNamee".

It also sends the following dispatch from one of the comedian's live performances:

Manford asked the audience what they had done during the show's interval and a heckler shouted "Twitter".

Perhaps he should have used his wife's account as well.

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