Tweeting 101 should be mandatory for some

Marlow Weldon

Oh how I love social networking.

It seems like every week we hear a new apology from an athlete, actor, or politician who threw something out into the cyber world, whether it be Facebook or Twitter, failing to realize the far reaching effects their 140 character-long statement would have.

I’m sure we all remember Toronto Argonauts offensive lineman Rob Murphy being fined by the CFL for making a less than pleasant observation about those who ride the subway in Montreal.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I read about an Australian swimmer who lost a sponsorship deal with Jaguar based on an anti-gay remark she tweeted while watching her boyfriend play for the Aussie rugby team.

And just last week, I read that an employee of the mother corporation (CBC) had had his knuckles rapped for tweeting that it was French separatists that were booing Montreal Canadiens netminder Carey Price during an NHL pre-season game that saw Price allow four goals on eight shots.

I’ll be the first to admit that I spend a fair part of my day checking on perennial time wasters like Facebook and Twitter.

But I also see an incredible value in the latter for its ability to keep people updated on things that relate to my day to day job.

For example, I was able to live-tweet (provide updates) for Red Deer Rebels’ fans who weren’t able to attend pre-season games that were held in Innisfail, Lacombe and Stettler.

Twitter also gives me the chance to update Red Deerians on the goings on of their favourite high school football team, or how the Red Deer College soccer teams did on the pitch.

Where we run into trouble though, is when we fail to exercise a little bit of common sense.

Sure, we all want to let everyone know when we feel we were slighted by the 15- year-old working the till at the local fast food joint, or heap praise on those who are willing to go the extra mile to help out a friend. (Isn’t that what the Beefs and Bouquets are for??)

But we also need to be aware of the fact that, especially with Twitter, once we put it out there, it is there for all to see, not just those that are within our circle of friends.

I know this fact all too well.

Recently, I chastised a local company on Twitter for them failing to meet their own delivery deadlines.

Well, it wasn’t too long after I tweeted my unhappiness that I had a none-too-happy circulation manager on the phone, wondering why I had taken my complaint to the internet, instead of calling them directly to get the issue dealt with.

It lead to a pretty interesting discussion in the newsroom about whether or not we should have a “Twitter policy” or whether someone like myself, with a bit of an elevated profile in the community, should be using my personal Twitter account for work purposes.

I fully disagree with any company trying to put limits on what I, as an average Joe, can do on the internet, whether it be Facebook or Twitter.

But I also realize that if I am going to use my personal account, on occasion, for work, then maybe I should have some limits on what I put out there.

So what is the solution?

I guess the answer, ultimately, might be that I create two Twitter accounts; one for tweeting sports related items, and another where I can rant and rave all I want without fear of reprimand from the powers that be.

Or, we could all just smarten up.

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