The Power Of Twitter

Director Spike Lee has issued an apology for a misguided Twitter post connected to the Trayvon Martin shooting. Lee retweeted a private address for someone he mistakenly assumed was the accused shooter in Martin case.

This isn’t the forum to discuss the issue or personal feelings about it; the point here being that in the minds of some, Spike Lee did an incredible amount of damage to his professional reputation by participating in a re-tweet frenzy that was not only ill-advised and wrong, but also horribly mistaken. The victims of the retweet campaign are an elderly couple with no connection whatsoever to case.

Even if the re-tweeted address WAS accurate, the idea of tweeting a home address to angry people seems tantamount to organizing a lynch mob. But that discussion must be saved for a different forum. What can we learn from this social media incident?

The moral of the story–especially for professionals using Twiiter–is pretty clear. But “Your personal views should be saved for your personal account” isn’t it. That one’s a no-brainer.

Perhaps we can all take a lesson from professional journalists and apply it to social media phenomena like the Spike Lee retweet incident. Good journalists are compelled to verify the sources of their information and evaluate whether a particular detail is relevant and worth pursuing. Does the information add credibility to the story being worked?

Before jumping on the “send this to everyone you know” bandwagon, it’s a good idea to consider a similar procedure–especially if you’re using a social media account tied to your freelance work. What do you REALLY KNOW about this subject you’re being asked to disseminate to the rest of the world? Do you really trust the sources you’re being asked to hang your reputation on as you retweet or repost to your friends, fans, or followers?

Food for thought.

–Joe Wallace

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