Twitter is aflame with calls for boycotts of Rupert Murdoch, his ‘News of the World’, ‘News of the World’s’ parent company, ‘News International’, and other Murdoch holdings, as the investigation of News of the World’s using a private detective, Glenn Mulcaire, to hack into the telephone voicemail of several young girls who had been murdered in the U.K. in 2002, as well as that of their families, moves into Parliament. The families of Milly Dowler, Holly Wells, and Jessica Chapman have all been informed by police that each of their telephone voicemail accounts may have been hacked, each within days of each girl’s disappearance, and each by Mulcaire, trying to get a scoop for News of the World. Among other things, Mulcaire is alleged to have hacked into Milly Dowler’s voicemail on her mobile phone, and deleted some messages, which caused Milly’s family to continue to hope that she might be found alive when she had already been murdered, and which interfered with the police investigation.
As the scandal reaches fever pitch, calls for Rebekah Brooks, head of News International and formerly an editor at News of the World, and a personal friend of British Prime Minister David Cameron, to step down are escalating, putting the Prime Minister in an awkward position, particularly as his Communications Director, Andy Coulson, also formerly of News of the World, has already been forced to resign his position with the Prime Minister.
Says Opposition Leader Ed Miliband, “This wasn’t a rogue reporter, it wasn’t just one individual. This was a systematic series of things that happened. And what I want from executives at News International is for people to start taking responsibility for this.”
But a spokesperson for News International says that Ms. Brooks “will not bow to any pressure to stand down,” adding that “I think she has been very clear today that that is absolutely what she won’t do. This happened back in 2002. She is now chief executive of a company in 2011. She is absolutely determined to get to the bottom of this issue.”
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A British Member of Parliament, Tom Watson, explains that “Whistleblowers involved in this case tell me there are a lot of high profile crime cases where people were the targets of News International’s phone hackers. So it is very, very serious and the story is still unfolding.”
“I think that is a distinct possibility. The real tragedy of this scandal is that it was the phones of victims in high profile crime cases that were hacked and, you know, they have to relive their tragedy over and over again particularly when they find out that their privacy was invaded. It is incomprehensible that a journalist could think this is the right thing to do and just unbelievable that News Corp, a $50 billion enterprise could allow this to happen for so long,” Watson added.
In addition to the formal investigation by Parliament, a groundswell of calls for boycotting News of the World, and for companies that advertise in News of the World to pull their advertising, has hit the social media sites, such as Twitter. Ford Motor Company has already announced it will pull its advertisements from News of the World, and T-Mobile’s U.K.-based division is said to be reviewing their advertising in News of the World.
Perhaps more astonishing (or impressive, depending on how you look at it) is the circulation on Twitter of the URL for a Google Doc spreadsheet, containing not only the names of companies that advertise in News of the World, but the names of their CEOs and their private email addresses, so that people can write to them, beseeching them to not advertise in News of the World any longer.
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It was Albert Einstein who said that “an informed citizenry will act for life and not for death.” Recent events, however, including Arab Spring, demonstrate that an informed citizenry who is also armed with social media will act for justice.
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