Rupert Murdoch starts tweeting; Twitterverse returns heavy fire

Summary:News Corporation's Rupert Murdoch has joined Twitter. It's definitely him, and the Twitterverse is responding with very heavy fire, after an annus horribilis for his media empire.

2011 was annus horribilis for Rupert Murdoch and his company, News Corporation.

Amid phone and computer hacking allegations, the media mogul has been slapped about by almost everyone, from members of LulzSec, to the custard pie that came close to whomping him at a British parliamentary committee sitting.

And now Twitter has him in its sights, as the 80-year-old amassed over 45,000 followers in 48 hours, and about as much criticism.

The account is genuine, and appears to be written by Murdoch himself. Unlike many celebrities who are 'brand-jacked', Twitter has verified the account.

"Either @rupertmurdoch is genuinely now on Twitter, or some disgruntled ex-NOTW journo just won the hacking Olympics", one Twitter user said.

Still, his well wishes for the New Year were overshadowed by controversy -- and so soon -- with Murdoch deleting a tweet he had published earlier this morning.

"Maybe Brits have too many holidays for broke country", he said on his Twitter page, shortly before deleting the tweet, written at 6am Australian time.

An earlier tweet said that he would be "back to work tomorrow", when many in the United States and the United Kingdom are taking a day off for a post-New Year's bank holiday. He acknowledged the criticism he had received by his tweet in a later message.

In reply to a user who asked whether his presence on Google+ could "be next", Murdoch tweeted: "Maybe soon, but I'm getting killed for fooling around here and friends frightened what I may really say!".

The Guardian reported that following Twitter co-founder and executive chairman Jack Dorsey's introduction of the media tycoon, Murdoch himself then tweeted -- and deleted: "Huge NY eve do. Oligarchs and silicon valley biggies (like Jack) . May. Learn something".

While Twitter does not claim to be impartial in citizen reporting, it has previously stated "the tweets must flow". Enabling even the most hated, along with the controversial and the lawlessness of rioters or game-changing revolutionaries, is part of this ongoing company ethos to keep the microblogging network transparent and open to all.

But Dorsey's tweet, and Murdoch's own deleted tweet, could be seen as a clouding of judgement by the company co-founder.

Twitter did return fire. From major names, and arguably those just as hated -- and even those embroiled in the phone hacking scandal, including former government ministers to Piers Morgan himself, many wanted to add their two penny-worth to the controversial figure's Twitter introduction.

Morgan welcomed his "old boss" on Twitter, while former deputy prime minister John Prescott, who fell victim to the phone hacking scandal, tweeted: "Welcome to Twitter...@rupertmurdoch. I've left you a Happy New Year message on my voicemail!".

The BBC's technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones questioned "which circle I'll put him in" regarding Murdoch's yet-to-be-seen Google+ appearance.

ZDNet UK columnist Jack Schofield questioned why Murdoch is only following four people, including a "Fake Larry Page".

Some of the best responses came from the wider Twitterverse.

One user summed up Murdoch's presence rather succinctly: "Hey check it out, Monty Burns is finally on twitter! Wait, what?". Another user is "really hoping this isn't some kind of try-before-you-buy deal".

Another Twitter user was "waiting for @rupertmurdoch to inform us which tweet is the most humble in his life", mocking his appearance at the UK parliament's committee on media ethics, shortly before he was custard pied.

Image source: ZDNet/Twitter.

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Topics: Security

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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