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The Week That Was: All a Twitter

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In what will surely become a staple pub quiz question of the future, this week a new record was set for the most re-tweeted tweet of all time. You probably don't need me to tell you the account it was originally sent from, nor describe the picture that accompanied the three words that sparked such furious clicking.

As I type, the retweets for president Obama's 'four more years' message are in excess of 808,000, and one can only presume they will continue to climb at the tail end of a week where social media has never played such an active, nor important, role.

Not only did Obama use Twitter to announce his reelection, having used it as a key campaigning device too, but his detractors and supporters all used it to celebrate (or denigrate) him, as well. From David Cameron's cheery "Warm congratulations to my friend @BarackObama. Look forward to continuing to work together", to Donald Trump's indignant and frankly hilarious, "This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy!" for instant election reaction, Twitter was the place to be.

Fast-forward a couple of days, and the Church of England showed its more modern side, following suit and agreeing to the identity of the new Archbishop of Canterbury also being revealed for the first (official) time online. There were even promises that the former Bishop of Durham would continue tweeting as he currently does, in his new rather higher profile role.

Despite all this, 'the internet' hasn't had the best of weeks. Blasted from all corners as the source for the unconfirmed speculation around individuals caught up in the Welsh care home paedophilia scandals, the web and specifically - to quote numerous newspapers and TV shows - 'Twitter and blogs' are being cited as uncontrollable entities that must be brought in check.

Never mind that the mainstream media has taken to using the speculation it finds online as the source for its reporting or, in the case of ITV, its This Morning Cameron stunt.

Before getting lost in the witch-hunt argument or attempting singlehandedly to offer a solution for policing the world's social media sites, we need all remember that at the heart of the matter are vulnerable children, many now traumatised adults. They were failed by society and must now be encouraged to come forward to trained professionals who can help them. Each case must be investigated in a manner befitting its gravity. The media has played its part in helping bring the issues to light, now the hard work really starts. Social media isn't the guilty party here, the perpetrators of the crimes are.

If proof were needed that the world can be a better place when we take our modern way of communicating and channel it in the right direction, witness yesterday's 'Malala Day'.

Saturday, named in honour of the teenage Pakistani blogger shot at point-blank range by a Taliban gunman on her school bus for daring to champion education for girls, saw Gordon Brown present a petition, signed by millions of people across the world, calling for the president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, to make education available to all children in his country, regardless of gender.

With Malala still recovering from her ordeal in Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital, United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon leant his support to the petition, posting a video message on the UN's website, in which he said: "Malala Yousafzai is a global symbol of every girl's right to an education.

"On 10 November, citizens from across the globe are speaking out for Malala and on behalf of the 61 million children still not in school.

"I am adding my voice to the messages from over one million people across the globe. Education is a fundamental human right. It is a pathway to development, tolerance and global citizenship."

However the world finds its voice in the 21st century, surely the important thing is we use it as a force for good.