Monday, November 15, 2010

Who is watching you on Twitter?

I have been following the story of one of our local politicians. Fliss Butcher is deeply unhappy with how the Dunedin City Council is being organised. And long story short, is off on sick leave.

The story has been written up in our local paper, the Otago Daily Times. The reporter, Mark Price, tells the story and ends his article that Fliss is continuing to communicate to people via Twitter and he quotes one of her tweets, which has personal content.

What interested me about this story was that the reporter had used Twitter to get information about Fliss...that Twitter is no longer a fad but a mainstream source of information.

A little later Fliss made this comment on Twitter. "Incredible to think Mark Price from ODT must have been scrolling through my twitter account. Wot about twitter ettiquiette?"

The truth is that anything you openly publish on the Internet, be it in Twitter, Facebook, blogs or whatever, is fair game to reporters or anyone else, and open to any number of uses and interpretations. And everything you say runs the risk of being taken out of context.

I am not saying that what the reporter did is good practice, and I certainly am not criticising Fliss. But I feel the lesson for us all (even if we are not public figure like Fliss) is: if we do not want people mis-quoting us, or using our personal information with "nefarious" motives we must either censor what we say, or keep our Twitter, Facebook etc accounts closed to invited people only.

Have you ever had the experience of having your online words reported in a way that harmed or upset you?


Mike Bogle said...

It sounds fairly clearly like Fliss doesn't comprehend the realities of engaging online in public spaces. Personally I don't think there was anything bad about what the journalist did, really. It's all publicly accessible after all.

As to your question "Have you ever had the experience of having your online words reported in a way that harmed or upset you?"

In my case, someone took a CC-licensed photo I had on Flickr of my daughter with cat make-up on and re-posted it elsewhere in a way that made fun of me (not her). She looked very unhappy in the photo and the caption they added said something to the effect of "Thanks for nothing, Dad."

It wasn't offensive or anything like that, but it did immediately alter my attitudes about posting pictures of my kids - they're all private now.

I figure it's not my right to post public photos of other people without asking - my kids included. So I keep it to only stuff about me. That way when I completely stuff up, I'm hopefully only shooting myself in the foot! :D

Sarah Stewart said...

I try to be very careful about what I put on Twitter, FB etc because I "market" myself as a professional and open midwife and educator. But I have to say it is tiring...watching what I say all the time. What I want to do one day is have an anonymous blog or Twitter account and rant away without worrying about upsetting people...that would be so much fun LOL

Mike Bogle said...

Why don't you start an anonymous blog or Twitter account? I think it sounds like a great idea!

Having said that, I've tried in the past and haven't always been very successful at it - though I was a bit lazy in covering my tracks too I must admit.

I think the trick would be if you're using the same Twitter client for both accounts. You'd want to make sure you didn't mix the two up LOL

I have videos of myself playing acoustic guitar on another username (and tried to keep separate) and one of my work colleagues found it and showed it to everyone :S

In terms of what I say on my blog and Twitter account. I do perhaps get too opinionated, and I imagine it could have an affect on my future employment prospects. But really I've grown so stubborn in my views I don't think I could work in an environment that was in direct contradiction with them anyway - but it is a risk nonetheless.

Sarah Stewart said...

The trouble is...I know I'd get caught out some how...and then I'd get into deep trouble. Besides...I am too lazy to have more than one blog, and running more than Twitter account can get very confusing. Maybe it will be something I do when I retire...become a grumpy old blogger...