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:
Sneak has always admired those lone fighters, the rebels, the individuals who stand against the odds to stick it to The Man. So it is with utter admiration that Sneak doffs his hat to rapid left-wing street fighter George Galloway, having learned of his one-man fight against the might of microblogging site Twitter.
Galloway, most famous for his sumptuous facial hair and cat impersonations, has manfully tried to get the lily-livered weaklings in the House of Parliament to wake up to the spectre of Twitter, proposing an early day motion to impose sanctions on on the site.
“This House notes that Twitter is now a very widely used mode of social networking,” his motion begins inauspiciously. Thanks George, Sneak – along with the rest of Western civilisation - was kinda aware of that.
But old firebrand Galloway soon gets going.
“Twitter is now used for a variety of criminal activities including sending malicious communications,” he rails, before accusing the site of failing to co-operate with police, calling its behaviour “reprehensible”.
Sneak had been rather impressed with the Transparency Report Twitter had published earlier this year, but now feels – in light of Galloway's clear-sighted rant – that he must have had the wool pulled over his eyes by this, “US-based enterprise whose primary motivation is to maximise its profits”, as @georgegalloway describes them.
Sadly, no other MP has dared rally to the cause, making Gorgeous George's the only signature of the motion to date. Odd that, it's almost as if this were just some crude publicity stunt rather than a serious political campaign.
And lo it came to pass that on the 12/12/12 Pope Benedict XVI would tweet and the people would rejoice for they looked and saw that his tweets were good. Well, grammatically accurate at least.
What words of great wisdom and insight did God's representative on earth have for the mortal masses who hold the scriptures dear? Like most people on Twitter it's all very self-involved stuff.
"Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart," he wrote first, before asking: "How can we celebrate the Year of Faith better in our daily lives?"
The punch line to this zinger, is wait for it... "By speaking with Jesus in prayer, listening to what he tells you in the Gospel and looking for him in those in need."
Ha, that old chestnut! Oh, Pope Ben, you're so witty.
So far the Pope has only followed seven people, though, all called Ben too, bizarrely, but Sneak is hoping he may get a follow soon after he retweeted what the Pope wrote to his 74 followers.
08 Oct 2012
With the UK heading into the last week of its conference season, Sneak was heartened to see the prime minister David Cameron doing his 'man of the people' bit and belatedly joining Twitter. What better way for the country's leader to keep in touch with voters (and the latest foul-mouthed tirades from professional footballers) than to join the microblogging site.
While Cameron may have been hoping to learn a thing or two from this social engagement, Sneak has to confess that a quick peek at the tweets sent to the PM provided a different sort of education. In fact, Sneak had no idea that it was physiologically possible to do such things with watermelons.
The prime minister kicked off his Twitter stream with a little joke about the frequency with which he'd be tweeting.
I'm starting Conference with this new Twitter feed about my role as Conservative Leader. I promise there won't be "too many tweets..."
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) October 6, 2012 ;
His comments recall his previous proclamation that “Too many tweets might make a...” with the blank standing in for a word Sneak couldn't remember until reading through the messages sent to the prime minister.
At least now Cameron can save himself from having to listen to the endless conference speeches by checking out the latest Twitter updates.
As the good old British summer dwindles away, Sneak couldn't help but wonder: what better way to lift the spirits than an outbreak of positivity. Why then, luckily for Sneak, some clever-minded soul decided to come up with Positive Twitter Day for 31 August.
After a quick dive in to the micro-blogging pool, Sneak already feels autumn's unrelenting doom dissipating like ripples on a sun-kissed pond. Take the cheery message from one tweeter, @alexhern:
— Alex Hern (@alexhern) August 31, 2012
#PositiveTwitterDay is the worst thing on the internet.
And who could not be cheered by the unabashed optimism from Slough Council?
Apparently it is— SBC (@SloughCouncil) August 31, 2012
#positivetwitterday today. Tell us the most positive thing about Slough and why you live or work here.
Sneak is pretty sure that Sir John Betjeman had already covered off all the best bits about Slough in his famous poem (bombs, cabbages, peroxide hair etc). Nonetheless, Sneak doffs its cap at this outbreak of cheerfulness in the face a glum reality.
Sadly, not everyone seems to be taking Slough Council's cheery goodwill to heart.
— Scumbag Millionaire (@sbmillionaire) August 31, 2012
Others, such as cynical tabloid hack @fleetstreetfox were even more down on the whole concept.
Whoever thought of— fleetstreetfox (@fleetstreetfox) August 31, 2012
#PositiveTwitterDay has no idea how the internet works.
That's the spirit guys!