i Deputy Editor's Letter: Too many tweets make a twit


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The Independent Online


We have a long history of using colourful language, especially when frustration gets the better of us. Some people are more susceptible, but even the most careful of us have been known to let slip a word or two which we may have later regretted. (It may come as a surprise to you that I occasionally fall into the latter group.)

We expect more from our elected officials and those in the public eye. But it wasn’t really a surprise when Conservative MP Henry Smith was caught on Twitter calling the Russian President Vladimir Putin “a tosser” over comments made over Britain being just a “small island”.

Half of people who hear this story will throw their arms up in outrage, the rest will think it’s mildly amusing. But I’m primarily using this anecdote not to scold Mr Smith but to ask why, once more, people in the public eye cannot control their urges to do something stupid on social media?

He’s not the first MP to fall foul of  the medium – among others David Cameron recently linked to a spoof Iain Duncan Smith account, Tory MP Rob Wilson accidentally posted a web link to a site which promoted “adult videos”, and Labour MP Jamie Reed has made inappropriate jokes about a woman’s facial hair.  I’m not going to go into sportsmen (the women don’t seem to do it) as this column’s not long enough.

People should be encouraged to speak their mind, but there can be too much of a good thing. Is there no way of programming a little internal alarm, something that says: “Hang on a minute, do I really want to say that?”. It doesn’t take long to stop and think before you get added to the list above.

As the saying goes, too many tweets make a tw.... Oops! There I go again...


Twitter.com: @jonesrhodri