The downside of social networks: Twitter

. August 18, 2014

by Masamnkele Matshayana

It has become a common practice in a world of advanced technology for people to make use of the various social networks. One of these social networks is Twitter; an application that allows a registered user to send a message to other registered user in the form of a “tweet”. These tweets are usually related to topics of common interest between the user and their “followers”. This usually ranges from Sports, Educational to Entertainment and Motivational Twitter accounts, which is a good way of “getting the word out there. All of this is done to a maximum of 140 characters per tweet; a relatively low quota considering how much people have to say on social media these days. Only 140 characters to inspire another follower through a profound quote that you want to share with them, or something that is going right in your life.


However these days if a person is upset by something or someone, the only place they find suitable to vent is a place like Twitter than another person that could assist, I guess it’s because they know with a social network you get the attention you looking for with others sending their replies either being for or against the post. Another downside to venting online is that the post can go viral in less than a minute and for some it usually changes their life forever because it attracted wanted or unwanted attention.


Take Ms Justine Sacco for example, whom on the 20th December 2013 before flying to South Africa from London made the statement, “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just Kidding. I’m White!”This statement did not only result in a uproar from her followers but got retweeted so many times that it went viral around the world, with people showing disgust at Ms Sacco’s statement. To make matters even worse, she lost her job in a Multi-Media company where she held a very influential position,


This goes to show how much a mere 140 characters can change your world forever, causing you to lose things that matter and having the whole world just you based on statements you made online to people that may be your “followers”.


It is important to note that at any point when you decide to join a social network, be it Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or even Google+, you think through a post before you make it, by this you put yourself in the shoes of the user that will be reading the post and see how your reaction would be, and also understanding your audience (other users) is important as this ensures that the topics you post about are relevant to and their interests and that they do not upset them.


Listed below are do’s and don’ts when it comes to online usage of social networks,

  • Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your parents, boss, law enforcement, your kids’ friends or your significant other to read.
  • If you are tempted to post something you think might be offensive, stop and think it over. Anticipate the reaction this tweet might get.
  • Don’t use a social network as a weapon. Avoid using tweets, which are public and permanent, as a forum to make your ex, a celebrity or a rival look bad.
  • Had a few drinks? Angry that you didn’t get a raise? Tired from working back-to-back shifts? Simply put: Don’t post when you’re upset.


Category: Archived ECHO 1, Uncategorized

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