A Vault Career e-mail showed up in my inbox today and the subject line caught my attention: The Top 10 Twitter Firings and Fallouts. I opened the e-mail and went to the link to find out what the top 10 twitter firings and fallouts were.
I was assuming that this would be a list of common mistakes that people make while using twitter. Things like tweeting how you hate your boss, or negative thoughts about your company, etc. What I was surprised to find though is that this is actually a list of 10 examples. And those 10 examples were actually by well-known people.
Some of the tweets I found were pretty horrifying, the kind of tweets that make you think, "What on earth was he thinking?" Gilbert Gottfried who was the voice of the Aflac duck posted a series of tweets joking about the tragedy in Japan, saying things like, "What do the Japanese have in common with Howard Stern? They're both radioactive." I don't know about you, but I don't find that funny.
Another one that made me cringe also made me confused. Catherine Deveny, who was a columnist at the Australian paper The Age, posted that she hoped that the late Steve Irwin's 11 year-old daughter would get laid. I don't know what made her bring that up or what the context of her tweet was, but apparently The Age didn't get it either, as they promptly fired her.
One mistake honestly just made me laugh. Chrysler hired New Media Strategies to take care of its social media. Ironically what one of the members of New Media Strategies meant to post to his personal twitter account, accidentally posted this to the Chrysler account: "I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f***ing drive." I find it ironic that he was talking about GM and it was being posted to Chrysler's twitter. Chrysler wasn't too happy about it though, as they fired New Media Strategies. Oops.
But when I look at these tweets as a whole, it serves as a reminder to me as just how serious social media can be. Oftentimes when people complain about something I wrote on Twitter or Facebook, I say to them, "It's just Twitter! It's just Facebook! Don't take it so seriously!'
But now, looking at these tweets objectively, I can see how the use of 140 characters can backfire. How Twitter and Facebook are more than just silly social media sites. They're true means of communication. People read what you post and they take what you say word for word. Humor doesn't come across on social media sites as we wish they could. And what you say, even after you delete it, is often permanently floating around on the Internet.
Moral of the story? Think before you tweet.