Want to tweet Katie Stevens? Or become Facebook pals with Tim Urban? Well, it might be too late.
On Wednesday (March 3), "American Idol" producers put the kibosh on season nine's grand social-networking experiment, consolidating the contestants' individual Twitter and Facebook accounts into a pair of official, show-related pages.
At roughly 6 p.m. ET, every season-nine hopeful sent out a generic tweet, advising fans that "all my updates from now on will be on our Official 'American Idol' 9 Contestant Page ... @AI9Contestants." And on each individual Facebook account, a message was posted that read, "Thanks so much for joining my Fan Page! All my updates from now on will be on our Official American Idol 9 Contestant Page, please become a fan there to read all my updates throughout the season!"
It's not known if the decision was simply housekeeping-related — i.e. a way to bring all individual "Idol" Facebook and Twitter accounts under one roof — or if producers had been gauging the number of followers each contestant had been racking up since the season began and made the move as a way of leveling the playing field. It's also not clear if each "Idol" contestant will continue communicating with fans through the individual accounts.
When the social-networking idea was announced earlier this season, we caught up with some "Idol" experts to see if they thought it would make a difference. Professor Robert Thompson, director of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, withheld judgment on just how big a deal the social-media openness could be. "It would be one thing if they said, 'All restrictions off,' and they allowed them to go on there and say whatever they want," he said. "That could be really interesting or really problematic. My guess is, if it's any indication of how the show's modus operandi has been in the past, these things will be highly controlled. That said, I would love to go on Facebook and Twitter and see them gossiping and dissing fellow competitors. That would have a certain juicy, 'Jersey Shore' deliciousness to it."
A spokesperson for 19 Entertainment, which produces "American Idol," could not be reached for comment on the matter by press time.