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How to Handle Your Tweets When Sensitive Stories Arise

Could any of your posts on Twitter be considered highly sensitive or offensive? Individuals, organizations, and companies are now joining Twitter to connect and communicate to the general public for various purposes. For business companies and online marketers, social networks are tools to help diffuse information and to reach out to a larger audience at virtually no cost. Individuals, even celebrities and politicians, have the freedom to post information about their interests, lifestyles, and little moments in life.

But posting publicly about private or sensitive matters places you, or companies, or any renowned personalities at risk. I’ll give you two examples on how tweets with sensitive content produced negative results. One instance was started from a simple well-intended tweet of Congressman Peter Hoekstra who revealed a supposedly secret trip to Iraq. For security reasons, the trip was supposed to be a secret from any media outlets. But twittering a secret operation for national security created security lapse for the Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee. It wasn’t the only twitter mishap that Hoekstra did.


Another, a big brand of baked goods also became victim for the ‘randomly’ choice of “unheard” sensitive hashtag. In 2011, Etenmann’s promoted to use the hashtag #notguilty to respond for the question “How do you indulge?” and it rose among the trending topics. The mistake was that it coincided with Casey Anthony murder trial. So they only not put their business at risk, but their followers as well.

Ano who could forget the other more recent Twitter mishaps of Celeb Boutique, the hacking of Burger King, and so much more? Celebrities, at times, also couldn’t control themselves on the social network, tweeting a few jokes here and there.


Should the social network Twitter be legally responsible for these kinds of offense? Of course not. It’s us, the users who are liable. To help avoid these incriminating activities on social media platforms, here are the things to consider when you posting your innermost thoughts:

1.   Review the terms and conditions. Perhaps none of us really read the terms of conditions of basically anything but they’re there for a reason. The content-related risks could be minimized through following the rules and guidelines of the social network you’re using. Twitter, for instance, has a separate “Terms of Service” for individual tweets in addition to the “Twitter Media Policy” and policy guidelines for businesses. The Twitter “Terms of Service” can be found below the “Trending Topics” panel.


2.   Think before you tweet. Before you click the “tweet’ button, think of how it contributes to your daily objectives and how it affects the general audience. Ask yourself if it would hurt anyone or affect anyone in a negative way. If you’re handling your company’s or brand’s social media account, make sure you know which one is the company’s and which one is your personal account. Then again, it would be a lot safer not to have business and personal accounts in one Tweetdeck or Buffer account.

3.   Look at what the hashtag referenced first. Use the search engine to know what your chosen hashtags refer to. You or your business does not want to be associated with a subject that has something to do with sensitive issues.

4.   Be careful with your sentiments. Although twitter allows its users to reply, retweet, and comment on posts, check if your words are respectful and not offending. This will not only keep you away from risks or conflicts but will also create effective engagement in your network account.

5.  And lastly, be responsible. After all, we created Twitter accounts to stay connected with friends, colleagues, groups, and other personalities, and even be updated with the latest news, not to create conflict and such. If you found yourself experiencing post mistakes, deal with them responsibly. Apologize to people if you have offended some. Never be afraid to admit your mistake.

Of course, we’ve been told while we’re growing up that if we don’t have anything sensible to say, we shouldn’t say it at all (or at least on an account that is public). Perhaps it’s the influx of various social media sites and their creative features that we forget the basics. It’s all about good communication, of reaching out and engaging to other people. It may be online and is completely different from face to face interactions, but it’s not an excuse for improper (and absolutely idiotic) behavior.

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