25 Jun 2014
It's always tempting, when you're testing out a service or setting something up, to write funny messages in the place where more serious communiques should appear.
Sneak has seen many a journalist write 'blah blah blah' in the place where a more witty, informative headline will go later, while developers the world over probably have fun writing "Bob Smith declared King of the Universe" or other such light-hearted nonsense when testing out an app.
However, the risk is that if something goes wrong, it makes you look rather foolish.
So it was that the BBC ended up with a lot of yolk and albumen on its face on Wednesday when its BBC Breaking News service sent out some rather odd messages.
Pictured left is the notification Sneak received. Sneak will now guide you through his thought process as he looked at the message in bewilderment.
The NYPD Twitter hashtag story sort of makes sense, although Sneak was a mite confused. It is hardly breaking news, as he covered it months ago.
Reading on and the "Push sucks! Pull blows!" comment, while possibly accurate, doesn't seem to warrant a notification to millions of BBC app users.
Then, the claims that the latest episode of Game of Thrones has no nudity is definitely not right. Not only did the latest season finish only a week ago, but there never has been, and never will be, an episode without some nudity.
Then all becomes clear. "IIIIII like testing." Ah, it's all a big mistake by a silly developer who probably forgot to tick the test box before sending out the alert. Oh you fool.
The BBC apologised and we can all go about our lives again. Except that dozy developer, who's probably been banished to work on the My Family Quote Generator app. Shudder.
A new word is being added to the Collins English Dictionary and it is adorkable.
Sneak does not approve of the word adorkable because despite wearing bottle thick spectacles and more tank tops than a munitions outfit, no one ever associated the word with him and his sartorial work.
Adorkable, you see, is a spin on adorable that nods in the direction of dorkish geekery. But don't take Sneak's word for it, let's hear it from dictionary corner.
There, specifically the Collins' Dictionary pages, we read how to spell it, how to say it, and what it means. We also learn that it has been around for seven years but really sparked its way into the collective consciousness in 2012.
adorkable (əˈdɔːkəbəl) adj slang
socially inept or unfashionable in a charming or endearing way
ETYMOLOGY C21: blend of ADORABLE and DORK
"With 30 percent of the vote, and despite a strong rally by ‘felfie' fans, adorkable will be entering the 12th print edition of the Collins English Dictionary! We loved reading the #Twictionary votes, debates and tweets from around the world, as ‘nomakeupselfie' devotees tackled ‘fatberg' fans," says the word firm.
"However, adorkable - a strong contender from the start - came through to win the coveted dictionary spot. The winning word is a more than worthy addition to any dictionary."
Felfie, which was second, is what happens when farmers take selfies, and a fatberg is what builds up in drains and sewers when grease and oil goes down the plughole.
Duckface, which Sneak can get behind - mostly to avoid seeing it - came in rather low with just a six percent share of the votes.
Adorkable will make its way into the 12th edition of the dictionary.
We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet.— CIA (@CIA) June 6, 2014
Sneak finally has some decent people to talk to on his social networking accounts, the venerable chaps, and ladies, at the US Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA to close friends.
Sneak is often found to be on the receiving end of a mute or blocking order, he hopes that the new social CIA will embrace him and his own brand of unclassified disclosure.
Certainly it looks like the CIA is open to the social experience and it has promised to share outwards. Sneak hopes that it will be equally open to responses.
While looking at the CIA account Sneak realised that other people have the same hope, and he noticed that a chap called @Wikileaks has promised to respond to official disclosures with some of its own. Sneak is looking forward to that.
However, while he is hoping for messages that are juicy like so many peaches, the truth is probably - and this is often the case - that things will be very boring indeed.
Take the CIA on Facebook. Sneak was expecting to see a video of a monkey sniffing something, a picture of some lunch, or hell, even a selfie, but none of that is in place. Instead there is a message that promises no fun at all.
"CIA welcomes your comments, however we wish to maintain the decorum appropriate to a taxpayer-funded organisation, we will moderate, and delete as necessary, comments deemed inappropriate. Failure to adhere to these guidelines may result in the author(s) being blocked from this page without notice," it says in a cat-free early post.
"Do not post graphic, obscene, sexually explicit or racially offensive comments or content. We also will not tolerate comments that are abusive, hateful, slanderous or that are intended to defame anyone or any organisation. All content must be unclassified. Do not post any content that may be considered classified, sensitive, or that would cause immediate and undue harm to a person or organisation."
Sneak is saddened to see that New York's finest have grabbed the dirty end of the Twitter promo stick.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) took to Twitter to elicit what Sneak assumes it thought would be a positive reaction to a call for photos of people and police interaction under the 'myNYPD' hashtag.
Unfortunately for the boys in blue Twitterers spun the photo request in the sort of direction that no-one in NYPD PR department will have enjoyed.
The NYPD seems to have taken all this on the chin, and said that this is just the kind of wide ranging chat that makes the internet what it is.
"The NYPD is creating new ways to communicate effectively with the community," said NYPD deputy chief, Kim Royster in a statement posted to the social networking site. "Twitter provides an open forum for an uncensored exchange and this is an open dialog good for our city."
The NYPD is not the first outfit to get caught out by the internet, and Twitter users will often leap on any slip up or error and ride it to its ultimate conclusion. Still, a little forethought about ways the campaign could go wrong would have helped.
It's not the first time Twitter has landed an organisation in hot water, that's for sure. Sneak can't be sure if this Twitter problem is worse than a rather dreadful one committed by US Airways last week.
In that instance an employee responded to an online message with a pornographic image.
These days, getting a good username on a popular service is like trying to run to the moon: impossible. Realistically, to get anything close to your name, or an identifiable moniker, you have to leave plenty of leeway and have a bit of creativity.
Sneak, for example, had to settle for Sneak10000000 for his email address (don’t think I’m telling you which service, though, oh no). And the Twitter account – now long since abandoned – had to be @SneakIT3Vblog just to get anywhere near to the terms you all know and love Sneak by.
For some early bird sign-ups, though, the joy of pithy, eye-catching usernames has given them plenty to boast about. But while Sneak’s jealously is limited to small fits of seething rage in his basement, others are more determined to get their own way.
One chap, Naoki Hiroshima, managed to secure the name @N on Twitter, having joined the site in its very early days. However, despite being offered huge amounts of money for this account, he’s always politely said no.
Others, though, were less polite, and went through the rigmarole of hacking his various social media accounts and web-hosting services, to be able to blackmail N into giving up the account, which he promptly did.
The case has proved some of the perils of the new digital age where seemingly harmless activities such as registering for a username on a website can lead to stress, hassle and, ultimately, blackmail.
Perhaps the old MySpace naming style of xxxSneAk!xx100 was for the best after all.
The great thing about the internet is you can act anonymously without any fear of being found out, meaning you can moan and whine about your colleagues online all day long without...oh hang on, what's this?
Oh dear, it seems a senior White House official who was engaging in some undercover insulting of his colleagues and public figures has been found out and fired. This is of cause for concern.
It seems that an official by the name of Jofi Joseph, 40, was fired from his job on the National Security Council nuclear non-proliferation team. Using the Twitter handle @NatSecWonk he was said to make all manner of nasty comments.
These included insulting the attractiveness of wives of politicians and the political achievements, or lack of, of many major bigwigs in Washington, such as Hilary Clinton.
"So when will someone do us the favor of getting rid of Sarah Palin and the rest of her white trash family?" he wrote last October, the BBC reported. "What utter useless garbage."
There's a lesson here for Sneak, but he's not sure what it is. One thing he did take on board though was the fact Joseph reportedly apologised for his "inappropriate and mean-spirited comments".
Sneak certainly doesn't condone this - stick to your guns man and go out in a tirade of insults, one-liners and score-settlings. Oh dear, some people in suits have just turned up and they don't look pleased. Right, before they haul Sneak away, Ballmer you're first...
Sneak isn’t a very political person, so he’ll refrain from sharing his views on the passing of ex-PM Margaret Thatcher.
But he was horrified when reports started circulating on Monday that the world had lost a true global icon, a woman who has done as much for fashion as she has for musical invention – Cher.
The trending hashtag #nowthatchersdead was read by many Twitter users (well, those who are totally uninformed on news and global events) as announcing the news that Cher's dead, rather than Thatcher's dead, leading to an outpouring of grief for the entertainer.
RIP Cher. At least now we'll find out about life after love. #nowthatchersdead— David Itzcovitz (@ItzDaveMedia) April 8, 2013
I note with curiosity that the hashtag #nowthatchersdead is trending from Melbourne to Dublin. I can't confirm anywhere that Cher is dead?— Richie Benaud (@RichieBenaud_) April 8, 2013
And then some clarification from a bemused comedian.
Some people are in a frenzy over the hashtag #nowthatchersdead.It's "Now Thatcher's dead". Not, "Now that Cher's dead" JustSayin'— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) April 8, 2013
Sneak himself was more concerned that the hashtag related to X-Factor contestant Cher Lloyd. Having long been a fan of tuneless, over-produced noise, Ms Lloyd is one of Sneak’s favourite performers. Still, seeing as she’s only about 12, he hopes she’ll be around to grace us with her dulcet tones for many decades to come.
Sneak is also hopeful that the #nowthatchersdead debacle, and many wasted tears over Cher #1 and #2’s passing, will lead to an upsurge in correct use of grammar on all social networks and hashtags. Although this is about as likely to happen as Billy Bragg, Morrissey and Ken Livingstone offering to be Margaret Thatcher’s coffin bearers.
UK chancellor George Osborne has chosen the morning of the 2013 budget to unleash himself on the Twittersphere, sending his first tweet on Wednesday morning. Under the @George_Osborne account, he tweeted:
Today I'll present a Budget that tackles the economy's problems head on helping those who want to work hard & get on twitter.com/George_Osborne…— George Osborne (@George_Osborne) March 20, 2013
The tweet is accompanied by a picture of the chancellor with his red box, indeed working hard and getting on, if you call sitting with a blank piece of paper and doing some scribbling as evidence of achievement.
Sneak hopes that one of the budget announcements will be providing the UK chancellor with a calculator or actual computer to add up his sums.
Osborne had managed to amass more than 20,000 followers by mid-morning Wednesday, including MPs and industry groups like David Cameron, Liam Fox and the British Chambers of Commerce - those that Sneak would define as dull as ditchwater, and keeps far from his Twitter feed - plus a few random ones like Bill Gates and The Beautiful World: the most beautiful, crazy, stunning pictures of this earth, the biography claims.
Obviously our chancellor needs a little light relief every now and again, though Sneak would have gone for @sockington.
However, no sooner had poor George published his one and only tweet this morning, but the floodgates opened on a torrent of abuse and mick-taking aimed at the chancellor.
It took Sneak a fair while of searching through the hundreds of welcome tweets to Osborne to find some clean enough to post on a professional site like V3, but this gives a taste of the messages.
It's good you've joined Twitter, @george_osborne, because if you're doing rubbish at your job, Twitter can really help you focus.— David Schneider (@davidschneider) March 20, 2013
I despair that @george_osborne is a) about to help plunge more people into poverty, and b) incapable of punctuation.— El (@ellesueur) March 20, 2013
Some might feel sorry for the chancellor being subject to this level of abuse and ridicule, on the most important day of his year. But Sneak suspects an ulterior motive.
Osborne, or his canny PR team, would have known full well the likely outcome of unveiling his Twitter account on Budget Day, and must be secretly hoping that the interest in all the tweeting will overshadow any controversial decisions the chancellor announces this afternoon, or at least encourage some level of sympathy for him.
Sneak is sorry to reveal to Osborne that Twitter is not exactly a hotbed of sympathetic and measured viewpoints. All of which puts us in mind of this delightful moment from last summer: