Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" sides of Twitter

A couple of things last week has got me thinking about how Twitter can be used for good or evil.

Dr Jekyll
On Friday evening I sent out a random message or 'tweet' on Twitter to say I was going to the pub. The next thing I know, I am joined by a Twitter friend and her family, and we had a lovely couple of hours chatting and getting to know each other. This impromptu get-together made my week and started the weekend off on a really great note.

Mr Hyde
In the meantime, last week I have had a colossal fall-out with a young person over a couple of messages that were put on Twitter about me and my family. This person sends a lot of messages via an ordinary cell phone. So I am wondering if this person forgets the messages are going to the wider Internet.

It is my observation that some people have little understanding of the implications of things they are putting on Twitter, Facebook and their blogs, making very inappropriate comments about people they know, their work and their family.

If I have said it once.....
I have said it a hundred times that you must be careful what you say on social networking websites, or in any online forum.
  • If you use your own name, you have to be doubly vigilant.
  • Even when you delete comments, they can still be traced by people who know what they are doing.
  • Do NOT say anything online about a person that you are not prepared to say to them face-to-face.
  • Remember that whilst you may mean one thing, your comment could be understood as something different.
  • You may be feeling fed up and tempted to have a rant to your friends on Twitter and Facebook. Take a breath and wait 24 hours so you can see things more objectively and be less likely to post something that will get you into trouble.
  • If you only want your friends to see your messages on Twitter, make your account a protected one, so that the only people who see your messages are those who follow you.
Do you have any other tips about using Twitter in a safe but fun manner?

Image: 'Jekyll and Hyde in color'


Katherine said...

Thank you for this timely reminder. It is entirely appropriate too, for a facilitator to be pro-active in "training" or guiding course participants in netiquette protocols; to be specifying the expectations and encouraging discussion on what is appropriate and what (frankly) isn't. (... as a trainee facilitator too, I have been learning as much from quietly watching fabulously modeled facilitation as I have from the discussions and activities). Social protocols:
I'd like to discuss this aspect of social tools in teaching more. I really appreciate the gentle yet firm way you've expressed your expectations - especially as I have a tendency to rant (you may have noticed). There is a balance isn't there (for me especially as I'm rather inhibited in 'real time') of being free to express a perspective (whether negative or positive) without being personal or harsh. Great advice.

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi Katherine, to be honest, I haven't noticed you ranting...will have to pay more attention LOL

Sometimes I think it is really hard to remember that what you say online is open to the world. I know...I have been guilty of a few boobs myself. I try to follow my own advice about leaving 24 hours before commenting but some times, emotion gets the better of you. So what do you do if you make a mistake? I think the best thing is to be up front about it and apologise...that's all you can do.

Lisa Barrett said...

So what happens to a comment that is published and then deleted? I tend to publish good and bad comments for discussion. It definitely pays to be clear on the law if you intend to blog potentially controversial statements.

I find it difficult if someone has posted about you but then wont publish your comment in reply. How would you deal with that?

Sarah Stewart said...

I don't have an answer for you, Lisa. I would probably ignore the original post...sometimes, the more you respond, the worse things get.

One answer would be to privately contact the writer and explain why you're upset about the original comments.

Tracy Pemberton said...

I am glad you post these questions. I have read a few rants by people and I have wondered if they thought they would feel the same way the next day. On my Blogs I try to write hard things and then wait a day, but I stay away from using Twitter and Facebook that way as I can see that it could be something that might spread throughout the world in a few minutes. What a thought. Used to be just neighbors....

Sarah Stewart said...

There are people who take delight in stirring up trouble online...we call them trolls...it is much better to ignore these people and not give them ammunition to feed off.