Twitter is no longer just a fun social tool, it can cause you to lose your gold medal, get kicked out of political office or fired from your job with the slip of a key. Twitter has started to make front-page headlines more than ever before. The most recent example of this was the recent London Olympics. You would think that with all of the media attention this social platform has been receiving these days, people would be a little more cautious with their words.
Twitter is a worldwide stage. With your Twitter account, you are essentially broadcasting your views to the world, and you better be ready to stand by them. What is it about Twitter that makes people feel comfortable to share their innermost thoughts and intimate life details in such a public space? You would never hop on a packed subway train and announce how you disliked a certain race of people at the top of your lungs when you knew you had an attentive, listening audience of strangers, yet when it’s typed online people seem to think it is okay to announce these thoughts to their thousands of followers (90% that they don’t even know) and those followers can share, comment and use their words for whatever purpose they wish. Unfortunately, when you do make a slip up on Twitter, it can be hard to delete or retract a statement that has already made its way into the Twittersphere!
Facebook, on the other hand, is much more private and usually you know and trust most of your network on this platform. On Twitter, anyone who is interested may follow you (unless you change your privacy settings). Twitter can also be very anonymous so people can be whoever and say whatever they want, even if it isn’t true and if they have a huge fan base, it is pretty easy to make a falsified comment go viral.
Twitter provides an interesting snapshot of how many people are still very politically incorrect (or naïve) and oblivious about it. Maybe it comes down to a bigger world views issue that we need to do a better job of educating the general public on what is socially acceptable and work towards acceptance, good morals and understanding? Even international corporate powerhouses such as McDonalds can slip up now and then on this social platform and it can quickly turn into a public slaughter ground.
This may call for us to go back to a Disney rule many of us learned at a young age – “If you can’t say something nice, (for goodness sakes!) don’t say nothing at all (or stay anonymous!)”. If you want lots of followers, be prepared to watch your words very carefully. Save your personal life for Facebook and your controversial opinions for your face-to-face conversations (they cannot be copied, saved, shared or held against you to the same extent!).
What are your thoughts? Do people need a WARNING message before they enter this social site to make the content sharing risks real? Ex: Warning: things you say on this site can and will be used against you… forever. Should Twitter play more of a role in monitoring conversations or is it up to us to deal with the consequences of our actions? We would love to hear from you!