The proliferation of trolls and fanatics in our beloved chirping microblog has made it urgent to issue some shared guidelines we can all adhere to that can regulate private and public behavior on Twitter. This is my proposal, which I submit to your consideration.
1. Thou shalt not patronize others. If you hold any views as to how others should write their profile and/or manage their public image and their account, write a post or tell them privately but don’t patronize them by lecturing them publicly: it’s arrogant, condescending and shows rather poor taste.
2. Thou shalt not debate sectarians. Twitterland is sadly rife with sectarians of the Left and the Right, defenders of the only true faith and fundamentalists of all political, religious and even sporting persuasions with whom engaging in debate is a futile and at times counterproductive exercise. Don’t be tempted and if they become a nuisance, just block them.
3. Thou shalt respect freedom of speech. Everyone is entitled to disagreeing with others’ political and religious views, musical, cultural and TV preferences. That does not mean they are ignorant or incongruent, but simply that their views and preferences are not yours. Learn to live with and respect that.
4. Thou shalt not applaud sexist, racist, homophobic and other discriminatory statements. Even if they are done in jest, I hasten to add. The last thing we need is for Twitter to become fertile ground for bigots. Expose them and don’t laugh at their jokes.
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5. Thou shalt not demand answers to your queries. Private tweeters are under no obligation to reply to your queries let alone solve your doubts and problems. Don’t be demanding when you don’t have a right to be so.
6. Thou shalt not demand RTs. If you wish for others to retweet your contents, by all means feel free to ask: but please remember that you are not entitled to demand it. Others may not always appreciate their value or simply will not want to become associated with the content or tweet in question for reasons they are under no obligation to justify.
7. Thou shalt not judge others’ Twitter style. In the Twittosphere there are radically different interaction and engagement approaches: those who follow back, and those who don’t, those who comment on any tweet that comes their way and those who don’t, etc. They all have the right to manage their accounts as they see fit and no one to impose their preferred style on others.
8. Thou shalt not copy other people’s contents. If other Tweeters post original content, you are under the moral and legal obligation to give them credit respecting the original Creative Commons or copyright license if you republish it in your web or blog. Acting otherwise is a stark violation of piracy laws and simply not acceptable.
9. Thou shalt not spam. Spam is one of Twitter’s worst enemies and a ‘zero tolerance’ policy against spam must be permanently enacted to preserve the integrity of the microblog. Say ‘no’ to spam under all its guises and report spammers.
10. Thou shalt not spread rumors. Purposefully misleading or lying in Twitter hurts people and will get you into hot waters sooner than you think. If you are unsure of the provenance of a piece of news, don’t report it; if you know the source, include it in the original Tweet. Beware of sensational, unqualified ‘breaking news’ and check twice before retweeting.
Unlike the original Ten Commandments, these are not inscribed on tablets of stone and I look forward any other recommendations you may have in order to preserve Twitter as a haven of respect, tolerance and freedom. Thank you all.
Oscar Del Santo is a lecturer, consultant, key speaker, blogger and populariser of online reputation and inbound marketing in Spain. He has been extensively featured in the Spanish and Latin American media and is included in the ‘Top Social Media Influencers’ and ‘Best Marketing Tweeters in Spanish’ lists @OscarDS. He is the author of ‘Reputacion Online para Tod@s’ and the co-author of ‘Marketing de Atraccion 2.0’.