Twitter twits…..?

3 December 2012

Topical challenge – with a bottle of champagne to the winner!

Twitter is a godsend for lawyers. It is clear that people have (despite numerous high profile incidents) yet to realise that one cannot tweet with impunity. The McAlpine libel is likely to change that and hopefully will teach twitter users a valuable lesson in restraint – just as the many employment cases involving emailed comments have taught employees (or some of them at least) to be more circumspect with the thoughts they commit to screen.

The fact that you can bash it out in 140 characters does not make your comment less offensive (or more interesting) or make saying it any less of a risk than including it in an email or putting it in print.

David Aaronovitch, the Times correspondent, recently wrote a piece on his 10 golden rules of twitter (see below). In addition to the usual policies on equality, social media and respect, one wonders whether every employee handbook could do with a similar direct and to the point list. Some have them, many don’t – 10 golden rules on cyber-comments perhaps….. ?

My personal favourite is Aaronovitch’s golden rule, “the rule of rules” as he calls it “Never, ever tweet anything about anybody that you wouldn’t say to their face. There’s a REASON why you wouldn’t say it to their face. They might hit you, or sue you”.

That said, with the office party season approaching there is a lot to be said for rule 7 – “don’t tweet while drunk” – something countless employees are likely to forget at the time, and live to regret in the cold clear light of the following morning!

We thought a topical challenge would be a little lighthearted relief for early December. All suggestions welcome – the sensible and the silly. We will compile a list of the best suggestions received by Friday 7 December and publish next week. To make it more interesting – a bottle of Champagne to the winner – just don’t drink it and tweet!


The 10 Golden Rules of Twitter
By David Aaronovitch

“1. Twitter IS publishing. Putting it out there for others to read is publishing. So don’t tweet anything you wouldn’t be happy to see on the newsagent’s shelf with a picture of you above it.

2. You think you know the law of libel. You don’t. Nor do any of your friends. I have had grown men telling me on Twitter… that repeating a libel is not itself libel (it is) or that if you don’t directly say X is a rampant Y, but just hint at it then it doesn’t count (it does).

3. If you’re an obscure nobody who no one follows, but who wants to say something rude sort-of privately, don’t do it under a trending hashtag. You will bring the wrath of thousands of strangers down on your hapless head.

4. Some people LIKE the wrath of strangers. They’re called trolls. If you feel yourself bridling at repeated rude comments aimed at you and your cherished views then just BLOCK the offender. They disappear as if by magic.

5. You are hurt. Wounded. Someone has questioned your talent or integrity. You wish to howl with online pain. Don’t. Those who enjoy your discomfiture will gather like crows around a carcase. Laugh. Put up a smiley.

6. That brilliant retort you have composed, replete with pungent sexual or violent imagery, which will utterly destroy the Twitter foe who has, despite my advice, so annoyed you? Cherish it. Roll its 140 characters on your tongue. And then, for God’s sake, DELETE IT.

7. Don’t tweet while drunk. You think it’s clever, and funny, you giggle and dribble at your own brilliant verbiage. But you are opening wide the gates of Hell. Morning will come, cold and clear.

8. Don’t EVER meet a jolly Twitter companion, even one you’ve been ff’ing (suggesting people follow you every Friday) for months. Not without a police report. I learnt the hard way.

9. Get yourself a decent avatar (picture) on Twitter. Not that default egg or the eye slicing scene from Un Chien Andalou. For everyone else’s sake.

10. Lastly, the golden rule, the rule of rules. Never, ever tweet anything about anybody that you wouldn’t say to their face. There’s a REASON why you wouldn’t say it to their face. They might hit you, or sue you. So why would you want to tweet it?”