Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Beginning of end for Twitter's Pigspotter?

It seems as if the end is near for South Africa’s latest Twitter sensation, Cliff the Pigspotter. The famous (or maybe infamous) online celebrity has made his name from posting accurate tweets warning drivers in South Africa’s Gauteng province about roadblocks and speed traps set up by the “Pigs”. I love his explanation that the definition of the word “Pig” is not derogative, just an acronym for -Police In Gauteng! (Yeah right, we really believe you Pigspotter!)

The police must be kicking themselves hard on their hooves because it is their gruntings and ravings on mass media, declaring sworn enmity with Pigspotter, that steered traffic away from the speed trapped M1 and other highways, all the way to the @Pigspotter Twitter profile. Of late the number of followers has ballooned from around two thousand to over twenty thousand followers. It has been interesting to follow the various viewpoints about whether the “Pig alerts” are morally right or wrong.

Cliff believes he is saving motorists from bribe-hungry Metro Police officers who choose to hide their speed traps behind trees and under bridges, ready to pounce on motorists. His argument is that a speed trap is meant to act mainly as a deterrent so once its visibility is hidden, it becomes a solely punitive measure with a financial reward at the end for the police. Others have sided with the police and denounced Pigspotter’s blatant disregard for the law and accused him of aiding law breakers. Due to these comments, he attempted a compromise by opting to stop alerting motorists about roadblocks and to limit them to warnings about speed traps only.

As we read news reports teling us that Pigspotter has hired a lawyer to negotiate with the authorities to drop the charges that they have laid against him, several questions come to mind. Will he be pardoned or will prosecution proceed? Is it the beginning of the end for Mr Cliff? Will we finally get to know his true identity? Does he have any innovative plans to use his newly accquired celebrity status for other ventures that are not as risky as warning wayward motorists about police? Any movie or book deals? What will be the impact of his almost certain disappearance from the traffic scene on his followers and South African motoring in general? I am offering a penny or more for anyone’s thoughts about what will be become of our Pigspotter!

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