The perceived ‘Twitter victory’ has been fuelled by the likes of former deputy Prime Minister John Prescott. Upon hearing of the newspaper’s closure, Prescott referenced The Sun's 1992 General Election headline by tweeting: ‘The News of the World is closing. It's Twitter Wot Won It! But this won't stop us Murdoch.’
Former defence secretary Bob Ainsworth also tweeted: ‘News of the World to close. Wow! people power. Twitter power!’
Speed Communications MD Steve Earl played down the input of 'people power'. He said: ‘If people are saying Twitter brought the News of the Screws to its knees then there are deluded as tabloid hacks who get a God complex and push it way too far.’
Earl added that ‘middle-class people braying about their sense of injustice is not, in isolation, what topples big corporations’.
Text100 MD Dan Baxter agreed: ‘It’s unlikely that anybody in the News International boardroom ever said "Hey guys, a lot of people are saying bad things about us on Twitter, we should probably close the paper down...".
‘That said, while the outpouring of anger and disgust on Twitter was probably not directly responsible for News International’s decision to shut down the News of the World, it almost certainly played a key role in influencing and driving discussion among key opinion formers.’
Celebrities and politicians joined members of the public this week to flood Twitter with messages of outrage over allegations NOTW reporters hacked into mobiles belonging to murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, families of British soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan and victims of the 7/7 terrorism attacks.
Twitter users also bombarded companies that advertised in the newspaper aiming to shame companies into a mass boycott. One wrote: 'Dear @TheCooperative, will you be reconsidering your advertising spend with #notw given that we now know they hacked Milly Dowler’s phone?'
Steve Downes, MD, Juice Digital, said the Twitter outcry was at best a part of the story. He explained: ‘Even as a social media cheerleader, I don’t think, in this case, that Twitter or social media were the main influence on the outcome of this. Influential yes, especially when details of the bereaved parents were uncovered.
‘Social media can only claim to have lead ‘the victory’ if it can claim that the buzz on those channels created the mainstream coverage in the first place. But in this case the mainstream media were all over it from the beginning and social media just increased the pressure.’
Frank PR MD Andrew Bloch concluded: 'Whilst there is no doubt that a huge hate campaign against the newspaper escalated on Twitter, the fact that News International appointed a joint managing editor for The Sun and NotW a week ago, and that Sun on Sunday domains were purchased several days in advance of the announced closure, would imply that any claims that "it was Twitter wot won it" hold little substance.’