‘American Idol’ And The Mystery Of The Disappearing Twitters

Alas, the American Idol contestants’ individual Twitter and Facebook pages are no more; instead, all of the singers’ (highly monitored) updates and shout-outs to fans will be filtered into one Twitter feed, @AI9Contestants, and on one Facebook page. So why did the American Idol Social Networking Experiment fail?

Idol producers have given no reason for the sudden elimination of the personal profile pages, but we can pretty much guess what the problem was. Each page was barely updated by the Idol hopefuls, so it never really was a venue for them to share their innermost thoughts with fans. Instead, it became a place for all their fans to swarm to in order to show their support. This resulted in a factual number assigned to each contestant—how many friends, followers, “likes,” and so forth they racked up. And although that number could rise or fall depending on the week and the quality of the contestant’s performance (or on any other variables, including health problems garnering sympathy or surfacing scandals turning off fans), it was an indication of how well each singer was being welcomed into people’s homes.

But because chronicling internet tastes are (surprise!) not an exact science as far as knowing what will really be embraced by the public (re: Snakes on a Plane, for starters), these pages could have given some contestants an unfair advantage. Knowing for a fact that Andrew Garcia and John Park were the two most popular contestants—at least as far as internet fandom goes—could potentially keep viewers from voting for them by assuming all their other fans would take care of it for them. Or viewers’ interest in continuing to watch the show might be quelled if they can already pinpoint a clear winner way ahead of time.

The show needs to keep the suspense going week after week after week, and allowing viewers to see a clear indicator of who’s coming out on top (instead of just judging by vague word of mouth) could ruin the anticipation of finding out who makes it to the finals. And then there goes Idol‘s ratings and the watercooler discussion of who might be eliminated/saved.

Did Idol producers really decide to nix the contestants’ online profiles just because of the possibility of voting methods being affected? Or were they planning on only keeping the profiles active for a few weeks only, just long enough to spot who the public favored the most so they could program Season 9’s arc more efficiently? Anyone else have any theories? Because we doubt we’ll get a clear answer from Idol‘s execs anytime soon.

But fear not—this doesn’t mean we can’t still judge their online popularity stats in some way! Although she didn’t capitalize on her hospitalization for extra sympathy from home viewers, Crystal Bowersox is the contestant with the most comments and “likes” on their FB status:

Picture 2 341 “likes” and 371 comments! We’ve got a clear favorite, people. Whereas Haeley Vaughn, who fell down and broke her metaphorical crown while attempting “The Climb” last night, seems all but certain to be hightailing it back home if the reactions to her status update are any indication:

Picture 3 Ouch. Guess this means they’re not moderating comments. So, if you hate one particular contestant and want them to know how you feel, hey—go wild!