One Tweet too far…

Posted on 9/03/2011 by Emma Dadswell


Twitter can be a great social and professional tool. For journalists and entertainers, particularly those not yet behind a paywall, it has become invaluable in disseminating stories and promoting new projects, ideas and building networks.

However, think of Twitter as a shiny new sports car. For most, it’s a tool to get you from A to B while looking as good as possible. But there are a select few who lose all perspective when they get behind the wheel – obsessed with speed and danger, they drive recklessly over the limit, leaving destruction in their wake before the eventual crash.

Just as some people shouldn’t be allowed to drive, some people shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a keyboard and an internet connection. While many public figures understand the dangers of oversharing on Twitter, some still inexplicably think of Twitter as a private space.

The fact is that Twitter is public. No matter who you think does or doesn’t care, whatever you choose to share online, whether on a blog or on Twitter, can be used against you as public information. This is fine if you’re Joe Nobody, but what if you’re Stephen Fry? Or Nir Rosen? When should journalists waive their right to free speech for the good of their career?

Let’s take the two examples mentioned previously. Stephen Fry has been guilty of several Twitter tantrums. Although he has not Tweeted anything outrageous, he has, on several occasions, Tweeted out in anger, rather than maintaining a dignified silence in the face of criticism.

Luckily for Fry, his place in the heart of the British people cannot be diminished by a few stroppy Tweets, but he, like many other celebrities, has fallen victim writing in the heat of the moment and pressing the ‘send’ button without thinking.

The most recent example of this is American journalist, Nir Rosen, who wrote a series of disparaging Tweets, casting doubt on the validity of the sexual assault of Lara Logan. The offensive Tweets were quickly picked up on by the disgusted US media, resulting in an embarrassing and overly verbose apology via an interview.

Rosen’s reputation may never recover, and he freely admits that somebody as insensitive as him should not be allowed to write in the public space.

At Handle, we believe that Twitter is for everyone – but that people need to know that Twitter is not private – whatever they post is fair game for anybody to call them on and, especially in the world of entertainment, that’s a reality that needs to be etched into somebody’s brain before they so much as think of turning on that computer.