There was a huge amount of speculation
in the run-up to this election about the possible influence of social media on the campaign. So far, it has been relatively low key, if not minimal. This morning it has burst to the fore with #nickcleggsfault one of the top trending topics on Twitter
globally, not just in the United Kingdom.
For those not so closely glued to the election campaign and social media this is a spontaneous response to the all out - and vicious - assaults launched on the Liberal Democrat
leader by the Tory press this morning. Almost every Conservative-owned newspaper in the UK devoted its front page to an attack on Clegg, many of them bordering on the hysterical and most lacking much substance. It looks like a co-ordinated attack on Clegg which must have been approved by David Cameron's team. Whatever they say later today it is impossible to imagine that this could have happened without Cameron's team agreeing. There has been a debate raging in Tory High Command since last week's televised leaders' debate over what to do with Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats. There have been many voices raised in favour of attacking him but also many others warning that such a strategy could backfire. Sometime yesterday the attack dogs won the argument and were let loose.
These assaults were already causing huge alarm
in Tory circles this morning before Twitter just lit up with the ridiculing of the Tory attacks.
This exemplifies the huge tension there is between the traditional proprietorially controlled media and the new world of user-controlled social media: it is almost the people versus the press and could be a seminal moment in this campaign as well as in the development of social media.
If it took the televised debates, rather than social media, to ignite the election campaign then we are certainly now witnessing the moment when the social media allowed ordinary people to have a voice in a way we have never seen before. We are in uncharted territory.