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When tweeting goes horribly wrong

What happens when lack of privacy hits hard.

You may have seen on the news recently that the writer and broadcaster Danny Baker has been fired by the BBC for posting a joke about the Duke and Duchess Of Sussex's baby, Archie.

When a Joke is not a joke

What constitutes humour has been discussed for years and this is not what this blog is about, but it is connected.

What we seem to forget is that every one of us is now a publisher.  In a bygone era, if someone wanted to get a message out it would be scripted, it would be edited, it would be crafted, and finally published, usually by professionals who understand the impact of messaging.

But we no longer live in those times. We live in an age where each of us has a voice, and a platform upon which to express our opinions and views.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and it is very powerful, but with great power comes great responsibility.

Who are you speaking to?

When I write anything I always ask myself three questions:

  • Why am I writing this? (Does it add value? Will it be useful/helpful/interesting?)
  • Who will read this? (Family? Friends? Clients? Peers?)
  • What could the impact be? (Personal or professional impact for me and the reader?)

These are my check points for social media and writing. I’ve held them since 1993(!) when email became a ‘thing’.

Being social

On social media there is a desire (especially by celebrities) to increase their audience, and on social media there is a LOT of noise. An estimated 500 million tweets are sent daily, and Facebook enjoys equally staggering numbers of uploads, likes and shares.  So how do you ‘cut through’? How do you get attention? Unfortunately some people believe being funny or controversial will help their cause. Often it does the exact opposite.

Being social online should be the same as being social in the real world.  If Danny had met the Duke and Duchess in person would he have made this joke to them? Unlikely.  But behind a keyboard and screen it’s too easy to fire off a message that will turn your whole world turn upside down.  This is exactly what’s happened here.  He’s not the first. He won’t be the last.

Getting to grips with Social Media

Danny Baker will now form part of my presentations on how NOT to use social media and I’m sure countless other professionals will also use this story to illustrate what can happen once you hit ‘send’.  So if he was looking for attention, he certainly got it.

The lesson for us all is that we need to think carefully about what we post. Use my gate keepers I’ve presented above. Or better still, why not use the age old axiom:

See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil.