Tweets and status updates seem temporary but they linger on in cyberspace indefinitely. In April, the Library of Congress even announced they’d be archiving tweets. Does the fact that tweets are much more permanent than they seem affect they way you use them? Are you concerned that what you say in social media affects your reputation?
Last July, politician Sarah Palin drew fire for posting, removing, and replacing a tweet on her Twitter account. The original tweet contained the mashup word “refudiate” which was criticized by the blogosphere, but the gaffe got so much attention that it resulted in the word being named 2010 word of the year by Oxford New American Dictionary.
Tweeting isn’t hard-hitting journalism, and isn’t bound by a formal code of ethics or conduct. But should bloggers feel obligated to let the tweets fall as they may, without modifying them after the fact? Do you expect that of bloggers you read or tweeters you follow?
Craft blogger Amy Anderson of Mod Podge Rocks! said, “The only time I’ve deleted a tweet is because of a grammatical error or a bad link (and I’ve reposted). Everything I publish is linked and so instantaneous that someone will definitely see it before I can hit ‘delete.’ “
“Once a tweet is out there, it has the possibility to be seen, so you’re really not deleting it from the public consciousness,” said Nancy Dorsner of Dabbled. It’s more about damage control: “you’re only attempting to stop further dissemination.”
Jen Jamar of Life With Levi cries technology: “I think the popularity of Twitter phone applications and the tendency for autocorrect to strike at inopportune times has increased the need to post “correction” tweets.” Deleting from her phone isn’t an option, so she’s more careful about what she tweets. “I try my best to avoid lax language skills (grammatical or spelling errors) on Twitter or my blog, since I want to appear competent to my readers.”
Among the bloggers I interviewed, most agreed that it was common to delete a tweet with a typo in it, or a double-tweet. Most didn’t care if people in their stream deleted or reposted corrected tweets. “Maybe since I have deleted tweets, I don’t have a problem with it at all. It’s such a public form of communication that I respect people wanting to make sure its truly representative of what they want to say and how they want to be perceived,” said Kendra Brodin.
Bloggers who take business (and personal reputations) seriously should think before they tweet. “I would start to lose respect for someone who continually regrets and delete tweets – I might suggest a tweet management program,” quipped Anderson.
“I know everyone presses the ‘retweet’ button and the ‘like’ button like it’s no big deal and delete the same way but I literally can lose sleep over pressing the damn buttons!” said Jill Mikols Etesse, who blogs at Moms To Work. She also owns SmartyShortz, an educational tech company. “Owning a children’s education company and writing a column to other moms comes with some big responsibility… I have to quadruple check to make sure a retweet or tweet says exactly what I stand for in every way or I just can’t do it.”
Kelli Matthews, managing director at public relations company Verve said, “I would worry that people who feel like they need to delete tweets out of ‘regret,’ are probably being too spontaneous and emotional. My advice would be to step back and think about why you’re using Twitter. Create a plan for yourself so you can ensure you’re meeting your own goals for participation.”
Do you ever suffer from tweet regret? If you do regret a tweet, do you remove or correct it or let it stand?