City of London confiscates @towerbridge account, kills playful bot

Tom Armitage made a little twitterbot that posted updates on the status of London's Tower Bridge under the @towerbridge. It was a playful bit of civic engagement from a proud Londoner. London's municipal government thanked him by having Twitter summarily confiscate the @towerbridge ID and give it to them. As Warren Ellis notes, "Cognitive cities require the approval and collaboration of city authorities. The same people who make flyposting illegal... It's sad, and somewhat annoying - especially for Tom - but a better example that these streets are not our streets won't be found in Britain today."
I'm about to get in contact with Twitter the second I've posted this. I'm more than a little furious; after all, all the URLs that link to it are now incorrect, all the lifts, all the (puppet-mastered) banter is gone. Cool URLs don't change, and these have just gone. And in their place: marketing.

I've never pretended to be an official account; I've never dissimulated; no-one from the exhibition has ever got in touch with me about the bot.

So, for the time being: this is why the bot has disappeared. I'm very, very cross, and perhaps a little upset; the robots are our friends, after all.

Where's @towerbridge?

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  1. You make it sound like the City can control the way Twitter does things – “having Twitter summarily confiscate”.

    In reality, some junior PR person working for the bridge’s tourist attraction has informed Twitter of the trademark conflict and Twitter have waded in with their usual subtlety.

    This isn’t the Lord Mayor’s black helicopters, it’s just Hanlon’s Razor.

  2. Don’t worry, I’m sure the “official” @towerbridge Twitter will be even better. But, to be clear, I’m not advertising it in any official capacity. Please don’t take my account, London.

  3. Recent tweet on the account says they’ve contacted the original owner about “a way forward” to keep providing bridge info.

    1. seems they’ve led with the tried and true “head on the pike” style of communications.

  4. Well considering the sheer number of “Tower Bridge *” things that are listed in the UK, one can only hope they will have a battle royal shortly with the winner being awarded the account.

    Well they were hoping to promote their museum, hopefully bad publicity is as useful for them.

  5. Given this shining example, I hope that Twitter finds itself absolutely inundated with name reappropriation requests and legal wrangling. Thousands of celebrities, companies and what-have-you can now jack names at will. Nice.

  6. What? That’s insane! If someone claims to be me, they can just HAVE my Twitter account on a whim without me being contacted? Annihilating any past posts I’ve made? Rubbish!

  7. The minute after I posted that, they’ve changed name again.
    Now they’re @twrbrdg_itself now.

  8. MD1500: Thanks for the heads-up about the new username. I’ve also noticed that I am still following the account, as I was previously, so only the username has changed with other settings restored.

  9. Classic. Bad publicity for the takers, and tons of new followers for the original (under a less-cool name, admittedly)/

  10. This is a pretty jerk move on London’s part to be sure.

    It’s also a jerk move on Twitter’s part.

    But, Twitter is a private company and this is totally within their rights. Nothing to see here.

    1. But, Twitter is a private company and this is totally within their rights. Nothing to see here.

      And Facebook. And Blizzard Entertainment. And Linden Lab.

      Mind you I agree that it’s their site to ruin as they please. But it begs the question, how long until users begin the exodus to user-owned communities? This is why in 20 years Wikipedia will still be going strong and Facebook will be an internet backwater just like MySpace.

      Let my bots go!

  11. Why do they never ask nicely? In many cases, a little missive stating, “We’re concerned, we’d like to work something out.” would be the clean, quick and easy way. Instead we get demands to delete it all.

    Oh right, it’s that generational formality gap.

    You can always tell when a company has hired a significant portion of a generation — the tone changes.

    Young people want acknowledgement, older people want deference, and never the twain shall meet. It was always thus.

  12. Mind the Gap!

    The huge fuckin gap between what should have happened and what actually happened. It just keeps growing.

  13. Maybe things like this will make people realize that companies are trying to chop the Internet up into little duchies, each with a nasty set of arbitrary rules imposed.

    1. Maybe things like this will make people realize that companies are trying to chop the Internet up into little duchies, each with a nasty set of arbitrary rules imposed.

      Unlike realspace, in cyberspace you can go somewhere else. What empowers the dukes is our attention.

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