Think before you tweet: 16 ethics on Twitter

CNBC’s blog, flopping out, gave me the ‘think before you tweet.’ Given that Twitter is fast becoming the ultimate source of information exchange online, it is not surprising if you find yourself one day following President Obama or Gaddafi or the guy in the corner of your street… or even me! The important thing to know in such times is that as tweeters we have certain unspoken of, yet unanimously accepted, set of rules—or rather ethics—to keep up to. But how many of us actually do that? Below I have listed few that I could think of and you are most welcome to add to them as you please.

  1. Tweets are read by others so if you don’t want even one of them to know what you think of an international political crisis, there is no point in sharing it with the others.
  2. Nobody wants to know what you dined on so please do not take the trouble of tweeting that you are at such a restaurant, eating such a dish and paying so much for it.
  3. Tweet what other will benefit from and not the fact that a coin has two faces. How many of them do not actually know that? I doubt they would find themselves on Twitter even accidentally.
  4. Tweeting is not letter writing so do not say thank you through tweets. Or hello or good-bye or any such courtesy for that matter, unless it is so important that it will surge your tweeting community ahead in some manner. Use Direct Messages if it is really necessary.
  5. Re-tweets are not to exchange pleasantries and neither are mentions. <Celebrity’s name here> re-tweet me! It would mean a lot to me! Of course it would, but how useful would you be as part of an active tweeting community which actually has serious tweeters? (Yes, such tweeters do exist.)
  6. Not knowing when to tweet can help you lose your job. ’Nuff said.
  7. A simple rule of thumb that can take you a long way, safely, is do not tweet anything you would not actually want to tell your followers to their face.
  8. Twitter is not a backyard for your musings so stop thinking aloud on twitter.
  9. Stop marketing your product or self on Twitter because, if you have not already bothered to read through it, one of the first terms you agree to when joining Twitter goes so: [You will not] sell, rent, lease, sublicense, redistribute, or syndicate access to Twitter or Twitter Content to any third-party without prior written approval from Twitter.
  10. Just because the term Twitter stemmed from meaning ‘a short burst of inconsequential information,it does not mean you can tweet useless collections of words.
  11. Stop trying to create trends by hash-tagging every word in your tweet. If it is worth it, it will become a trend with no help from your part.
  12. Do not converse on Twitter or cuss around because, while Twitter is not a chat room, it is not any more private than a humungous ball everybody in the world attends.
  13. Direct Messages are not cheap marketing solutions so stop asking people to buy your product or get a membership with your company. Say thanks for following instead or, better yet, do not send Direct Messages unless you know that person and are sure you will not be wasting their time sending such private messages.
  14. Nobody need follow you back. Get it out of your head that someone needs to follow you because you followed them. It is not a favour they owe you, nor an action you ought to expect. Remember that you followed them out of your own free will and not with them holding a gun to your head. You wanted to read their tweets, and they are glad to share it. If they do not want to read yours, stop forcing them and—childishly—stop unfollowing them!
  15. Twitter is not all about followers rather about quality tweets. It is better to have ten followers and thousand quality, useful tweets rather than thousand followers and ten rotten tweets.
  16. Twitter account monitoring softwares play spoil sport because they are only interested in followers. Automatically following tweeters and unfollowing them if they do not follow you back is lame. See my 14th point. And if you are on Twitter for followers, you would be better of taking my advice and deleting your account. You will then do many people a great favour.

Have you thought of more such Twitter ethics? Share them below!