How to avoid ending up an inadvertent Twitter ‘troll’

Though the actions and subsequent prosecution of two ‘trolls’ from the North East is at the extreme end of the social media horror story scale, it still serves as a good excuse to remind people of the dangers of flippant use of online chat.

John Nimmo, 25, and Isabella Sorley, 23, sent what were described in court as “vile” and “horrific” messages on Twitter following Caroline Criado-Perez’s successful crusade to have a woman featured on the new £10 note.

The man from South Shields and the woman from Newcastle admitted sending rape and murder threats to the feminist campaigner.

But even the most responsible social media users can all too easily find themselves in hot water by having well intentioned comments taken out of context.

At any given time you’re getting the opportunity to debate opinions, on subjects you might have very limited knowledge about, with total strangers.

Before social media your opinions and take on life was reserved for friends and that’s where they’d start and finish – not any more.

So what you might consider a joke might appear deeply defamatory to someone else.

If you’re in doubt, don’t say it!

Twitter fallout can be deeply damaging to existing or future career prospects, as highlighted by last month’s high-profile sacking of US public relations executive Justine Sacco.
Before boarding a flight to South Africa she tweeted that she wouldn’t get AIDS in Africa because she is white. Ms Sacco landed in South Africa to find herself in a total media storm – illustrating just how quickly an error of judgment can escalate.

If you were sat at a restaurant table surrounded by people of different cultures, ages and upbringing you’d be incredibly guarded about what you said to ensure you didn’t offend or alienate someone.

Twitter is the same scenario – forget it at your peril!