Twitter is synonymous with impulse. You have a moment’s inspiration or something you want to get off your chest, and you decide to share it on Twitter. This is nothing new, but what boggles my mind is how many people believe, when you tweet something, it’s yours to control.
Now what exactly do I mean by that?
There are people out in the Twittersphere (as some call it) who are under the mindset that if they share their thoughts, opinions, and spur-of-the-moment revelations without a filter, they can always backpedal and delete said tweet from their Twitter stream. You know the kind of tweet I’m talking about. It’s that spur-of-the-moment, that impulse, and when it is out in the wild, you look back on it and think “Maybe I should take that tweet down.” You can go on and do so, but does that mean it really has been erased from memory. Not by a longshot. Tweets are far more permanent than you might think.
Just as a quick refresher, here’s how Twitter works. You compose your tweet in whatever mobile or desktop app you choose, and then you send it to Twitter’s servers, and there it is either sent to the main stream or to the individual you are reaching out to through direct messages. That’s the basics, of course, but what you may not realize is that when you send out a tweet, your public update is seen by search engines, and if your tweet or account does not have privacy protocols in place, your 140 characters will be all over the internet. This may sound like common sense, but there are cases after cases where individuals and even official corporate Twitter accounts have tweeted things they ended up regretting. Maybe it was just too honest. Maybe it was a wise crack that was misinterpreted. Maybe someone tried to join a conversation they didn’t fully understand. In most cases it was that Twitter user who thought “I only have 250 people following me, so only they will see this tweet…” not knowing that the account was set to “Public” which means everyone can see it. Your unfiltered thought is out there.
Nothing is really private about what you say online. All the apps that help you tweet, snapchat, go Live on Facebook and otherwise create a social space that encourages informality, rapid responses and the sort of conversation that typically takes place between friends like in a bar in a private or semi-private environment on the street in a pub or a café. What goes forgotten quite frequently in this online interaction is that there is a permanent record that is kept of every little inane observation, spiteful aside or potentially libelous comment on a respected public figure.
It may be a radical notion, but the truth is Twitter – and social media on a whole – should be approached like a roomful of strangers and you are armed with a bullhorn. Think about it – do you really want to share your current thought with these people? And guaranteed, a good amount of these people know how to screen capture.
If you want to keep something truly private, keep it offline.
So many times people have put things in these areas in haste and they have regretted, because they can’t be deleted. Be careful what you tweet.
A research physicist who has become an entrepreneur and educational leader, and an expert on competency-based education, critical thinking in the classroom, curriculum development, and education management, Dr. Richard Shurtz is the president and chief executive officer of Stratfdord University. He has published over 30 technical publications, holds 15 patents, and is host of the weekly radio show, Tech Talk. A noted expert on competency-based education, Dr. Shurtz has conducted numerous workshops and seminars for educators in Jamaica, Egypt, India, and China, and has established academic partnerships in China, India, Sri Lanka, Kurdistan, Malaysia, and Canada.