Social Media Column: Bite your tongue on Twitter, Facebook

Published in the July 24, 2012 issue of The Edmonton Sun.

Linda’s social media column can be found every Tuesday in the Edmonton Sun.

Bite your tongue on Twitter, Facebook

Last week wasn’t the best for local politicians on social media.

At the provincial level, our Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk made a Facebook post joking about cheap hotel room rates due to a landslide in B.C. Not funny considering the landslide stranded 600 people, not to mention at that time there were two dead and two others still missing after a landslide at Johnsons Landing.

At the municipal level, Ward 3 city Councillor Dave Loken got into a very public, very heated Twitter spat with some Edmontonians who had questioned him about the downtown arena. Loken called a tweeter a “chicken sh*t cheap shot artist,” and “pathetic,” even using the hashtag #troll to refer to users he said were hiding behind fake online Twitter names.

Both social media messes prompted this column’s reminder on social media tact and obvious do’s and don’ts. At least, you think some things are obvious, but apparently not, especially if high-profile individuals continue to fall victim to their public posts.

The key word being: public. Social media is so public and so permanent. Know that everything you post is out there for everyone to see.

My golden rule is if you have to think twice about posting something on Twitter or Facebook, you probably shouldn’t post it. Is that joke actually funny? Is this a thought that really needs to be shared with the masses? Can you look at your own timeline and be happy with how you come off through the words you’ve written or the photos you’ve posted?

Be careful. Be smart. Don’t swear. You’ll regret it. Don’t call people names.

Don’t get pulled into out-of-control, long back-and-forth, very public online fights. You can still debate and share your opinions or react to others and their opinions without virtually slinging mud at them. Be the bigger person. Is how you’re reacting online how you would be reacting face-to-face with someone?

Loken later apologized for his posts, saying he used inappropriate words during a heated conversation. Lukaszuk also apologized, saying he was out of Canada and unaware of the scope of the situation in B.C.

Apologies are great but the damage is done.

Loken tells me he’s learned a good lesson from this incident and doesn’t plan on shying away from Twitter because of it; rather, he’ll react in a more professional and constructive way in the future.

Lesson learned, but really, it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

It’s not rocket science, people.

And yet this certainly won’t be the last time someone makes regrettable posts on social media.

Some Tweets of the Week:

@Ksaretsk: Weird white pollen was falling from the tree in my front yard and for a moment I was terrified that it was snow #ohcanada #yeg

@MikeyB0101: Listening to people from Saskatoon talk about “big city” #yeg on the LRT. How quaint.

@ChrisinEdmonton: The park and ride at Century Park is a superb location for people watching.

@tttanja: Weekendo f my dreams!!! Batman and fast cars all weekend in #yeg! Yes!!

@dustygrooves: There’s a major pulse going on in this city. So many festivals, special events and summer activities! Love Edmonton. #yeg

Click here to read the column on the Edmonton Sun website!

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