Page last updated at 14:55 GMT, Monday, 26 January 2009

Why celebrities love Twittering

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Stephen Fry on the joys - and dangers - of Twitter

By Lizo Mzimba
Entertainment correspondent, BBC News

Perhaps the most significant step so far in TV presenter Jonathan Ross's media rehabilitation, after his three month suspension, was the revelation he is hosting this year's Bafta Awards in February.

The news did not come in the usual way though, through a press release or publicist.

It came directly from Ross himself, through his Twitter feed.

Jonathan Ross
Jonathan Ross updates his Twitter messages almost daily

For the uninitiated, Twitter is a micro-blogging site where people post short messages online using up to 140 characters.

Ross is not the only celebrity participating, as Stephen Fry recently revealed he too is a regular user.

Appearing as a guest on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross, he said: "It's the big thing at the moment."

He admitted he had been Tweeting - as it is called to those in the know - for three or four months.

"I was very excited about Facebook about four years ago. But I found that I was overwhelmed by too many people.

"Whereas, the great thing about Twitter is you can use it on your mobile phone. You just send things," he said.

However, celebrities communicating with their fans online is nothing new.

Imposters

Blogs, and networking sites, such as MySpace, have been providing this service for the past few years.

But the enticing thing about Twitter is its intimacy, along with its sheer ease of use.

It takes seconds for a celebrity to write a quick update on their mobile phone and you can even send them a direct message in response - although unsurprisingly the chances of a reply vary hugely.

However, when a service is so easy to sign up to, there will always be people who choose to impersonate high profile figures.

TWITTER FACTS
It is an online service that people can use to post short messages 24 hours a day
You can also keep track of other people
In January, Barack Obama was the most popular person with more than 144,000 followers
Users can receive updates via the website, text messages, RSS feeds or e-mail
It was founded in 2006

Genuine Twitter user Philip Schofield exposed someone who had been posing as his fellow This Morning presenter Fern Britton.

And users claiming to be everyone from veteran politician Tony Benn to the Archbishop of Canterbury have been shown to be be not the real deal.

But the number of actual celebrities is still on the rise, despite slight hiccups on the way.

Rising pop star Little Boots, who topped the prestigious BBC's Sound of 2009 poll, dipped a toe into the world of Twitter.

She quickly pulled out declaring on her Twitter feed: "The majority of twitter is PRs, journos and indos so she's just not playing any more, sorry."

Traditional methods

The singer is in the minority, though.

Month by month, more and more celebrities are embracing it.

Tennis star Andy Murray is a frequent updater, sharing his thoughts in the hours after his defeat at the Australian open on Monday.

"Just bak from dinner. Bumpd in2 the guys from The Prodigy in hotel lobby. Tuf 2day. Fernando playd gr8 5th. ."

Little Boots
Little Boots came off Twitter when she became famous

Actor John Cleese is also a fan:

"Happy New Year everyone, and may your new year's flatulence be tuneful and fragrantly innoffensive."

And comedian Alan Carr has extended his brand of humour onto his Twitter feed:

"Just watched The Wrestler, loved it, i wouldn't be surprised if Donatella Versace goes on to win the Oscar. She was amazing."

And for some, it is fast replacing more traditional methods for issuing information.

As Ross commented on his Twitter feed:

"Once all the press madness dies down I'll try to let you on twitter know about forthcoming guests and music first."

So in the future for those seeking information or just a plain bit of insight into the celebrity world, Twitter could well be their first port of call.



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