The Dangers of the RT social media

Normally at this point I’d apologise for the lack of updates but one, I’m pretty sure I have like, one follower and two, I’m not sure long form blogging works for me.

So I’m using the last few minutes of my lunch hour and the first few minutes of my working hours to write a little blog about the dangers of the retweet.

Before lunch, I witnessed an employee of a certain charity, who tweets in a work capacity (charity name in the username and all), retweeting a debate she was a part of. She then tweeted something I disagreed with. Rather foolishly I decided to engage with her, even though the inevitable consequence would happen. She retweeted my disagreement. I had no interest in debating the stream of followers who then leapt on me. I wanted to debate her. As a representative of her charity. She was the one I disagreed with. Thankfully my lifestyle (vegetarianism) wasn’t too different from theirs and we all reached a reasonable middle ground. But I shouldn’t have had to have placated her followers when trying to engage with her as an employee.

Now when you’re tweeting as an individual, you can retweet that git you don’t agree with and that’s fine, that’s entirely your right and I dare say something we all sign on for when we use Twitter. We put our opinions out there. The "problem" is, your followers are likely to agree with you. I mean, that’s why they follow you in the first place. That’s a hell of assumption I agree but still, it’s not an entirely unreasonable one especially if you have a branded account.

Recently I was involved in an incident where my thoughts got retweeted and I was bombarded by aggressive & abusive tweets. For a hour I tried to debate them but it was futile. In the end I deleted a lot of it, blocked them and temporary turned off my account. The guy who retweeted me exposed me to his following (several times larger) and promptly crushed me. It was totally his right to do so (his personal account), but it wasn’t a great debate I tell ya. It’s impossible to debate a half dozen angry people who are pissed off because something you said was taken entirely out of context of the conversation you’re having with someone. God help the person who makes a misjudged comment or a mistake (cough, me, cough). It was awful and I felt like I’d just taking a kicking from a half dozen people. That’s the other problem with retweeting a segment of the debate. People will only see that one negative point in isolation and they will flay you for it.

If you’re presenting yourself as an employee on twitter, the rules are different. Or should be different. You’re engaging with a customer, a supporter, a complaint waiting to happen, someone who you’re trying to convert. You have a responsibility to your company to behave in accordance with your handbook. If you wouldn’t expose someone you meant on the street to this, why is it okay on Twitter? I want to engage with you as an employee, not you and all of your followers.

Finally, I get Twitter is about debating and engagements and so on, but don’t be an ass about it. Engage, hold your corner, and for crying out loud, if you’re an employee of a company and you’re tweeting to engage people:

1 – It’s okay to have debates and engagement with people on Twitter, even if it’s difficult.
2 – However consider asking permission before retweeting if you know you’ll potentially inflame things (I know, it’s so alien to twitter, but it seems some people’s judgement sucks). At least try and give some context of the debate alongside your RT.
3 – When I ask for your charity’s social media policy you better be able to present it! Having a half dozen of your charity’s employees using branded accounts without a policy is not wise.

I suspect I’m way, way off here, but I’m really only focused on employees tweeting. Individuals can be gits all they want.


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