Think before you tweet

12 Nov

As a child my mum was forever telling me to ‘think before you speak’, now it seems I’ll be teaching my son to ‘think before you tweet’.

Two big Twitter headlines hit the news this morning. The first, a Tory councillor was arrested after a horrid, horrid tweet calling for journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to be stoned to death. The second, Paul Chambers – who used Twitter to joke about blowing up Robin Hood airport – had his appeal against his criminal conviction rejected.

Both these guys state they were just ‘joking’, though it does’t take a great deal of common sense to work out that threatening to blow up an airport on the Internet might just raise a few eyebrows. And an MP should really be a better person, or at least be able to pretend to be. However, that is not the point. The point is this, throw away comments simply do not exist when being made on social networking sites. Comments on Twitter (and indeed Facebook, Bebo etc) are rarely viewed in the context required to ‘get’ the joke and often people reading your updates don’t know you that well and therefore don’t necessarily understand your quick wit (or not in these cases). You really need to let your head think before your fingers run away with you, or you could end up regretting it.

While these two cases could be seen as unfortunate for those involved, it hammers home that Twitter is a serious means of communication. If it wasn’t deemed important these guys might have just got away with their distasteful sense of humour.

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