The 10 golden rules of Twitter

David Aaronovitch

No week seems to pass without some tweeter or other having their handle felt by officers of the law. So if you don’t want to be one of them but you do want to communicate in 140 characters, here are my 10 Golden Rules:

  1. Twitter IS publishing. Putting it out there for others to read is publishing. So don’t tweet anything you wouldn’t be happy to see on the newsagent’s shelf with a picture of you above it.
  2. You think you know the law of libel. You don’t. Nor do any of your friends. I have had grown men telling me on Twitter this week that repeating a libel is not itself libel (it is) or that if you don’t directly say X is a rampant Y, but just hint at it then it doesn’t count (it does).
  3. If you’re an obscure nobody who no one follows, but who wants to say something rude sort-of privately, don’t do it under a trending hashtag. You will bring the wrath of thousands of strangers down on your hapless head.
  4. Some people LIKE the wrath of strangers. They’re called trolls. If you feel yourself bridling at repeated rude comments aimed at you and your cherished views then just BLOCK the offender. They disappear as if by magic.
  5. You are hurt. Wounded. Someone has questioned your talent or integrity. You wish to howl with online pain. Don’t. Those who enjoy your discomfiture will gather like crows around a carcase. Laugh. Put up a smiley.
  6. That brilliant retort you have composed, replete with pungent sexual or violent imagery, which will utterly destroy the Twitter foe who has, despite my advice, so annoyed you? Cherish it. Roll its 140 characters on your tongue. And then, for God’s sake, DELETE IT.
  7. Don’t tweet while drunk. You think it’s clever, and funny, you giggle and dribble at your own brilliant verbiage. But you are opening wide the gates of Hell. Morning will come, cold and clear.
  8. Don’t EVER meet a jolly Twitter companion, even one you’ve been ff’ing (suggesting people follow you every Friday) for months. Not without a police report. I learnt the hard way.
  9. Get yourself a decent avatar (picture) on Twitter. Not that default egg or the eye slicing scene from Un Chien Andalou. For everyone else’s sake.
  10. Lastly, the golden rule, the rule of rules. Never, ever tweet anything about anybody that you wouldn’t say to their face. There’s a REASON why you wouldn’t say it to their face. They might hit you, or sue you. So why would you want to tweet it?

@DAaronovitch

Read more: “The unhealthiest falsehood spread on social networks is that users are living lives of constant glamour and hilarity,” says Libby Purves

Pro-smoking lobby embraces social media to help protect the kids | James Dean

This has to be the weirdest social media campaign I’ve ever come across.

“Hands Off Our Packs” is fighting against plain cigarette packaging, a measure being floated by the Department of Health to try and make a killer habit less sexy – especially to kids. It tweets from @NoToPlainPacks, runs a Facebook page here and a YouTube channel here.

The main arguments are “nanny state”; that counterfeiting will become easier; and, conversely, that plain packaging will pose a danger to children.

The campaign does have its champions, particularly the Daily Mail. Blogger Abhijit Pandya recently offered this supportive pearl:

Tax revenue from tobacco over the last year was over £12.1 billion, paying for vital treatment in hospitals

It’s probably worth mentioning that the campaign is supported by British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco.

Twitter: @jamesdean_lives

Read more: Burning with indignation, an industry fights back over plans for plain cigarette packets

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