An experimental “tweet-wall” on giant TVs in the main hall of the EU summit in Brussels was shut down to avoid causing embarrassment to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi after being hijacked by Italian Twitter users who bombarded it with messages calling their prime minister “a mafioso” and “a paedophile”.
Postings on the microblogging site tagged “#EUCO” were automatically fed to a pair of large plasma screens in the main hall of the Brussels building in which the 27 leaders of Europe were meeting to discuss a response to the eurozone debt crisis.
However, soon after it was launched, Italian twitter users found out about it and flooded it with anti-Berlusconi messages.
After only two hours, the “tweet-wall” was replaced by anodyne footage of the summit proceedings and the European Council logo.
“Berlusconi pays for sex, for votes, for mafia protection, for everything he can buy. What he cannot buy will be stolen,” one tweet read.
“Berlusconi is a mafioso, but he make laws for be not judged,” another said.
At about 3pm, the Euro-blogger Joe Litobarski realized what was happening and wrote: “Uh oh. Italians have realized tweets tagged #EUCO shown on Twitter wall at #EU Council meeting — expect mayhem.”
However, it was the messages sent by mpietropoli, an Italian designer, that caused the council press team to take down the system when he started bombarding it with quotes from the Italian leader, including some praising Mussolini.
“Mussolini never killed anyone. Mussolini used to send people on vacation in internal exile,” he posted — a quote from Berlusconi.
“[I cannot] think that there are so many pricks around who would vote against their own best interests,” mpietropoli also tweeted — another Berlusconi quote.
“We had the tweet-wall up for two hours in the main hall, but it wasn’t moderated and a lot of the tweets were ... well, very, very frank,” said Dana Manescu, the council press team official who organized the wall.