Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Think Before You Tweet

   I love listening to audio podcasts. One of my favorites is The Social Hour on the TWIT network. On a recent episode, hosts Sarah Lane and Amber MacArthur started off the show talking about a couple of instances of people using very poor judgement when posting on Twitter.

   First, top Greek triple-jumper and former Olympic team member Voula Papachristou showed very poor judgement, tweeting a racist message in the weeks leading up to the London Olympic games. You can read the tweet as well as some commentary here and here. There are a few things that make this case interesting.
   Papachristou is 23 years old... not far out of her teens. We need to make sure our own teens and young adult children understand how to use good judgement online. Next, online is public... if you post it, it will be seen.  That's a good lesson for everyone. And things said in public can have immediate consequences. Finally, and this may be the hardest lesson for our kids to learn, it only takes a moment to leave a lasting  impression. She has been publicly apologetic for her tweet. Time will tell how this self-inflicted damage will effect this athlete. Poor online judgement can have lasting effects.
   Of course, good online judgement can also have lasting effects! I'll talk more about reputation management in a future post.

   The next story on the show was a similar event, with different results. In, what is now a well known tweet, Englishman Paul Chambers showed similar poor judgement in 2010 with a "joke" tweet referencing bombing an airport. One only needs to be a member of society today to know that isn't a good idea. Here's an article with the text of his tweet.
   As a result, Chambers was convicted of making a menacing threat and fined, which also led to him losing his job. Many netizens and celebrities flocked to his defense. After two years and three appeals, his original conviction was over-turned. But this has clearly had a detrimental effect on his life.
   While Chambers is seven years older than Papachristou, many would still consider him to be young. Of course, people of any age can show poor judgement.

   Whether you agree with the consequences of these to cases or not, the fact remains that the Internet is a public place. People will see what you tweet, post, like and comment upon. People will see the pictures you post. Our kids need to know that what they put online can have consequences - for jobs and for reputation.

   So... think before you tweet. Think before you post. Think before you click. You get the idea.

   What do you think? How can we help our kids make good online decisions?

   I think I'll review this post one more time before I publish! :-)

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