One of the biggest jibes from those who scoff at social-networking is the inherent narcissism within it. It may seem unfair but no user can truly deny that there isn’t a grain of truth to it. In that vein, with millions of people trying to carve out their niche and make a splash, dust-ups and controversies are a dime a dozen on social-networks.
However, it’s somewhat surprising when those outside of social-networks are dragged in, or rather, join into those ruckuses, as happened with the case of @PigSpotter, for example.
More than six months have passed since the Pigspotter controversy broke out and though he may no longer be dominating the headlines, PigSpotter is still very much a ‘force’ in the South African twitter-sphere.
Oinks and all, PigSpotter was launched onto the South African digital consciousness after media personality and Twitter user, Aki Anastasiou in his column for South African daily, The Star, wrote about him. In that column, Anastasiou questioned the intentions, patriotism and tone of the then relatively little known Twitter account. The reason for this being that PigSpotter, tweeted the location of roadblocks, speedtraps and delays to traffic all whilst referring to Metro Police, as pigs.
Controversy ensued, with the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police opening a case on PogSpotter, including a litany of charges against the, still to this day, unknown user. The story also went international with both BBC and CNN reporting on it. All this attention took the account from about 5000 followers to more than 30 000 by the end of last year.
In either a turn of diversification or proof of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, Pigspotter or rather, accounts purporting to be PigSpotter, have gone national with accounts both on Twitter and Facebook for other South African cities such as Cape Town, Durban and even the not so traffic-laden towns of East London and Port Elizabeth.
As it stands PigSpotter has continued to grow on Twitter, with a following just under 50 000 and his name has at times popped up popular media, although the controversy has died down.
In March this year he got involved in a spat on Twitter with Catherine Grenfell, a personality on South African national radio station, 5fm when he seemed to tweet – a tweet he insists was misinterpreted – that people should not pray for the Japanese (after the earthquake) as they engaged in the controversial practice of whaling. Suffice to say, with both of them having fairly large profiles the spat quickly went public.
Unlike the image PigSpotter and his fans have of Johannesburg Metro Police, however, PigSpotter has not been lying back like a pig in the mud.
He has diversified his brand to include a website, which he states will grow to be “one central platform to help the South African public learn their legal rights on the road, identifying trapping hotspots, publicise abuses of police power and recognise those in the force who truly do serve their community.” On the site, PigSpotter events are also advertised and PigSpotter merchandising is also sold.
As for what happened with the police case against him, the particulars are far from clear. Unconfirmed reports of Johannesburg Metro Police checking mobile-phones when stopping vehicles were reported for a while last year, but since then, nothing.
Memeburn reached out to PigSpotter for any comments for the story, but were unable to get hold of him. As a fan of his tweeted, “some say he doesn’t sleep, some say he’s got a clone in Australia who takes over at night… All we know he’s @PigSpotter”.