Johannebsurg - Just two days after the launch of the @OscarHardTruth twitter handle for Oscar Pistorius’s murder trial, the account has garnered almost 18 000 followers.
On Monday afternoon, the account had just over 10 000 followers and it grew to 18 000 by 9am ton Tuesday, but a social media expert has warned Pistorius’s family and PR team to prepare for online backlash.
Pistorius’s family and spokespeople launched the account on Sunday, aimed at exposing “the truth and expose those with ulterior motives” ahead of his trial.
“For the truths behind the Trial, Follow @OscarHardTruth. They will uncover the truth, the trial and those involved. #oscarhardtruth,” tweeted his official account.
The account, which saw 400 followers join in a single hour today, also tweeted: “As the trial approaches, many untruths, half-truths and versions of the truth have (been) and shall be spread across the world.”
Another read: “We will address the truth and expose those with ulterior motives. The Truth will Prevail.”
Pistorius’s spokeswoman, Anneliese Burgess, said the account spoke for itself.
“It’s essentially a platform for giving information.
“Its intention is to provide factual information that will relate to potential statements or briefings.
“It will link to certain media reports and it will provide clarity when necessary. It is an information platform,” she said.
Social media publicist and strategist Jodene Shaer said her first reaction upon seeing the account was: “What is the purpose of this?”
According to the social media expert, there is nothing wrong with opening the account, but there may be teething issues with the public’s reaction to it.
“The account will either explode, or quickly lose traction,” said Shaer. “People want to follow news-breakers, not just retweets of older news stories.”
She said the account would probably cause a buzz for a while, but unless it took off with thousands of followers, it may just fade into the online ether.
Burgess said she and a number of Pistorius’s relatives would run the account.
“It’s not a PR vehicle,” she said, adding that the account’s purpose was not to comment on the case.
“The court case must run its course and we have been very clear about that,” she said.
She could not say whether the legal team supported the decision to launch the account and Pistorius’s attorney, Brian Webber, didn’t respond to requests for comment.
The account is linked to the Blade Runner’s official website, oscarpistorius.com.
While the number of account followers was increasing by the hour, they were still a fraction of the 302 000 followers on Pistorius’s own official account.
Among the tweets on Monday were a few stories on how the prosecution may have suffered a setback when it was revealed that Pistorius might not have been on his prostheses at the time of the shooting.
This morning, people were mostly critical of the account on Twitter.
“It’s a desperate attempt to influence the case & will probably cause more backlash than their intended outcome,” tweeted Alushka Rajaram (@alushka_rajaram).
“He’s probably aiming for a reduced sentence with this twitter account. Foolish,” tweeted @preyan.
In another tweet, the same user said: “More like digging his own grave! Stupid and foolish move. The harder he tries, the more he seems guilty!”
Sibongile Mafu (@sboshmafu) said on Monday: “Why does the @OscarHardTruth account exist though? Can the truth not come out in a court of law?”
But Pistorius’s supporters also made their views heard. Hammerhead (@callmesharkee) tweeted: “@OscarPistorius @OscarHardTruth I already followed and I support you 100% all the way! Stay strong Oscar, bless you and your family xx.”
In support, ClaireMarie (@IlVolocrazyee) said: “@OscarHardTruth Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? It’s hard watching the media look for ways to destroy Oscar. Stay strong.”
Pistorius is accused of murdering his girl-friend Reeva Steenkamp in February last year. His trial is scheduled to begin in the Pretoria High Court on Monday, and to run until March 20.