Over the weekend, The Mail on Sunday reported on the tale of Paris Brown, the newly appointed youth police and crime commissioner with a tendency to tweet her mind. The piece focused on the nature of the Tweets from the 17-year-old's personal Twitter account; comments which were described by her boss, Ann Barnes, as rude, offensive, unpleasant and unacceptable. You can read the full report from the BBC here.
"A lot of young people use them and say the most horrible things. They don't even think about what they are saying and I think this is what's happened with Paris," reflected Barnes.
"Won't it be good if, from her own experience, she can try to get over to young people that [some things] they say on Twitter or Facebook are unacceptable?” she added.
The eminent Steve Kuncewicz wrote an interesting comment on the situation. While you should all pop across to his site to read his take on the whole affair, I’ve pulled out a paragraph below:
"What you say online has real consequences in the real world. More and more cases in the employment tribunal revolve around social media comments and, despite the data protection and human rights issues involved in online vetting, I’d bet that most employers take a look at candidates before employing them.”
Wise words for a Monday morning.
Occasionally, I lecture to university students, advising them on how best to use social media to job hunt. My favourite stats come from a survey done by CareerBuilder.co.uk in 2010 (I bet this figure has gone up).
- 53 per cent of employers look at the social media profiles of applicants to a position.
- 43 per cent of these employers chose not to hire a candidate based on content they found.
Smash cut to Monday afternoon. The newspaper print on yesterday’s Mail on Sunday wasn’t even dry.
Surprising no one, the passing of Margaret Thatcher was extensively covered on everyone’s favourite 140-character social network of choice. Thatcher was a divisive figure and the commentary on Twitter reflected as much. Some people liked her, some did not.
And that’s absolutely fine.
Opinions are good. Twitter is a messy senate for the masses and I love that I get to eavesdrop arguments which dart between politics and television shows in a heartbeat. Opinions make social media an interesting place. And I can choose to agree or disagree with you at my leisure. But this isn’t my point.
Never write on Twitter what you wouldn’t want to be quoted on by your mum, boss or the BBC.
Some of today's tweets about Margaret Thatcher wouldn’t have looked out of place on the front cover of a national newspaper.
Social media isn’t new anymore and we’re not lawless pioneers in the wild west of the internet. What we say can be recorded, documented and played back to us. Time and time again, we have seen the repercussions of an ill-judged tweet; firings, legal action and convictions. Our words don’t just float away into cyberspace.
We need to be aware that, even on social media, our words have real ramifications.