Over the past week, there have been at least two majorly stupid statements released on Twitter. One came from the official Secret Service Twitter account, another from the president of a Baptist college in Georgia.
A brief digression---why does the Secret Service have a twitter account?
(From the Secret Service): @CounterfeitJackson this is the @SecretService we're coming to get you!
(Reply from Counterfeiter): @SecretService you'll never find me! #quitwastingyourtime
(Reply from Secret Service): @CounterfeitJackson you forgot to turn off the geotagging on your twitter stream! We can find you. #gpsrocks
The individual employee of the Secret Service that has access to the account said something mean about Fox News. Of course, not knowing the time of day, it could have been a completely accurate statement (something about can't stand the blathering. Have you watched anyone's news programs lately? They all blather.) However, it came from the "official" feed, so apologies had to be issued, my fellow right-wing conspirators are convinced, again, that the Executive Branch hates us all, and CNN is laughing about it. Anyway, the likely source of this tweet probably uses TweetDeck or Seesmic or another Twitter management program and clicked the wrong account. I do this sometimes, too, on the "official" FBC Almyra Twitter feed.
Emir Caner, President of Truett-McConnell College, made a remark that equated a church-planting group, Acts 29 (I'm not one of their fans, but that's another story), with the pornography stash found at Osama bin Laden's hideout. That was rude and wrong, and it came from his personal account, so it's hard to blame a staffer.
People, here are three things to remember about Twitter, Facebook, and any other social media/internet device:
1. It is a public stream. Comments on the internet are as private as a conversation in the mall or in the dining room of a McDonalds. People can hear you. Even text messages sometimes go where you don't intend them to go.
2. It is a permanent stream. Forget that the "delete post" option even exists. Once you put it out there, it's out there. End of story. Someone, somewhere, saw what you said, and they captured it. You will not be able to wiggle out and say you didn't say it.
3. It is a partitioned stream. You cannot say and explain everything you mean to say in one post. Which means that what you say can and will be taken out of context sometimes.
What to do?
Realize that: anything you put online will last forever if you don't want it to. (Failures of critical data storage are a different discussion).
Check what you are logged-in to: if you are responsible for an agency, company, or other group, use a completely different software or phone app. UberSocial is where all of my organization tweets are on my phone. Twitter for Blackberry has all of my personal ones. I have to intentionally activate work tweets. It adds 60 seconds that are better spent there than the countless hours addressing any oopses---
However, avoid the oopses: is this something you would shout in a crowded movie house? (or a crowded firehouse?) If not, do not say it on social media. Seriously. The world, and you, can live without it.
If you are managing the feed for someone else, be doubly sure of what you say and where you're saying it.
If you are in charge of an organization, be triple sure: people are watching.
There's more to say about the idea that 140 characters is hard to make a joke in, that some people don't get your humor anyway, and keep it to yourself. If you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing.
Especially for us Christians: don't type something you wouldn't say! You are as responsible for the words you type as for the words you speak.