Paris Brown, 17 year old ex-youth and crime police commissioner, summarises a generation’s response to tweeting-before-thinking: “They just make me cringe, not because they’re offensive but because they’re stupid.” Thus, But her actions had more consequences than drunken selfies. Brown, forced to resign/fired from her role for Kent Police after her boss discovered racist, homophobic and ‘just stupid’ tweets from her 14-16 year old self. You could almost hear the sound of employers across the country stalking their intern’s Instagrams and the unanimous sigh of relief from all the savvy students who’d had their accounts private for years. While I frantically look through my tagged photos using the morbid criteria “if I go missing and this is the photo plastered all over the news, would I really want Jon Snow to see me like this?” here’s a list of how to maintain your friends, followers, job, clean criminal record, and dignity on Twitter. With these in mind, if you want to fill the new job vacancy at Kent Police Force, I’d head over to the wasteland that is MySpace and get deleting.
How Not To Lose Followers:
TMI. This is social media, so if you’re going through a hard break up and just want to post Taylor Swift lyrics, save it for your therapist/tumblr. For the love of Mark Zuckerberg, don’t think that because this current trend of posting pictures of your legs in the bath is done by many that it is done for good reasons. On a similar note, avoid the mundane. Unless Heston Blumenthal was the person who delivered your breakfast in bed wearing a dalmatian print onesie, no one cares. And if you hashtagged ‘nom nom’, that’s the reason that in the entirety of your social networking existence, the only mention you’ve ever received was from a spambot.
How Not To Get Arrested
Know your libel. Wikipedia tells me this is “A published false statement that is damaging to a person’s reputation.” A law student could probably elaborate on my interpretation of this as “don’t slag off famous people online without evidence.” If it’s taken out of context, your Malcolm Tucker levels of defamation could be investigated by the police. In 2010 there was the case of the ‘Twitter Joke Trial’ and Paul Chambers, infuriated at waiting for his flight tweeted “Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!” and was accused of malicious intent. Unless, like Chambers, you can get Stephen Fry on your side to pay for your legal fees and convince the Crown Court that you’re not a terrorist, you could be in for a tough ride.
How Not To Lose Your Job
Know your audience. If we have learnt nothing from the incidents of the man planking on a police car, lifeguards doing Gangnam Style, or Harlem Shake in our very own St Hilda’s, it’s that there’s a time and a place for an internet craze. Don’t go viral for the wrong reasons and remember the majority of YouTube fads are the wrong reasons.
How Not To Lose Friends:
First up, no lying. Brown blamed her tweets on ‘bravado’ and even though some of them were at best the kind you’d see on your timeline and wince, including “I really wanna bake some hash brownies” you’re from Kent love, not The Big Lebowski. Your followers may not know you well enough to call you out on it, but your friends will. See also: reading someone’s tweets about that amazing night out they’re on, and it’s “sent from web” not mobile. A rookie error.
How Not To Lose Your Dignity
Take any exceptionally banal tweet from One Direction. Observe the replies of their fandom. Insert here Harry Styles’ tweet ‘R.I.P Baroness Thatcher xx’ and boggle at the replies, “Who’s that?”, “May he rest in peace. Amen”, and, most bafflingly “It’s market thatcher something to do with our queen” (I wish I were joking.) The lack of pragmatics and their love for Styles’ gravity-defying hair and baby face means they will never pick up on your sarcasm. Trolling is pointless. They outnumber you. Instead, maintain your dignity and take a policy of non-involvement. Retweet Ed Balls’ first tweet which simply said ‘Ed Balls’ instead.