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A tale of two tweets in turmoil

Who ever said tweeting was easy? No one. Especially when human beings are involved.

The Red Cross recently learned that lesson the hard way when an administrator on their Twitter account mistakenly published a personal tweet about beer:

Red Cross embarrassing tweet

The Red Cross deleted the accidental tweet but admitted to their followers that they got rid of it (transparency at work). They also owned up  to it with a blog post explaining what happened. Now, instead of talking about their embarrassing gaff, everyone’s talking about how well they handled a bad situation by addressing it head on. Way to turn things around, Red Cross.

But not everyone is able to come back so gracefully from a bad tweet. NYU Fellow Nir Rosen quit his position today at New York University’s Center on Law and Security after posting a string of offensive tweets about the attack on journalist Lara Logan that took place during the protests in Egypt.

Rosen deleted his two most offensive tweets (you can find the text of those tweets in Mashable’s article about the incident). And he followed up with several other tweets apologizing for his behavior on Twitter, saying:

Nir Rosen resigns after offensive tweets about attack on Lara Logan.

Twitter is NEVER private, unless you’ve opted for a secure account (by requiring those who want to follow you to request your permission first). And even then it’s a good idea to assume that your “private” tweets could be retweeted or viewed by others. Is anything ever truly private in our Information Age?

Forgetting that Twitter isn’t private was Rosen’s biggest mistake. Yes, his tweets were offensive. But we’re all human. We’ve all said or thought offensive things before. The difference is that we generally keep those things to ourselves instead of broadcasting them to 600+ people. Rosen did apologize but, although his ammends appear to be heartfelt, that alone was not enough to save his job.

Think before you tweet. Tweet with a bit of caution. If you make a mistake on Twitter (or anywhere for that matter), own up to it quickly or risk being vilified for it. The brevity and immediacy of 140 characters should not absolve us from making good choices and using tact.

Related post: R James Taylor’s Once Tweeted, Never Deleted: Your Reputation Online.

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5 Responses to “A tale of two tweets in turmoil”

  1. Interestingly, I shared these exact (yet separate) articles from Mashable with the rest of our Social Media Advisory and Resource Team. I added my own advice:
    Tweets are still words and words have power. Use your power only for good.


  2. A necessary post these days, Colleen. Thanks for sharing. We need to remember about PUBLIC information versus PRIVATE information.


  3. Julia, thanks for your comment. I like your advice.

    Fran, public vs. private is something I like to continually remind myself about. It can be easy to forget in the heat of the moment, but it’s crucial if we want to protect our online (and in person) reputations and keep the discourse civil!


  4. Great post Colleen. How anyone can “forget” that Twitter isn’t private is beyond me!


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