The Tweet You Wish You Could Take Back

I’ve read countless interviews in which a notable politician, businessperson, musician, actor, writer or artist claims he or she has no regrets. They wouldn’t change a thing if they could.

I don’t buy it. I regret what I had for lunch, for instance; I should have had a salad. I shouldn’t have stayed up last night to watch that depressing episode of Mad Men. That was definitely a mistake.

If there are some self-deluded types out there who truly have no regrets, well, they must not be on Twitter. If you have a Twitter account, you have regrets.

We’ve all had that experience of firing off an e-mail we wish we could take back or, at the very least, of choosing “reply all” by mistake. But a stray e-mail is nothing compared to the tweet that got away.

Every day, it seems, there are reports about a person or company that tweeted something idiotic or downright hateful. Today, a tech company named ASUS sent out a tweet with an image of a woman working at a tech convention, paired with a juvenile comment about the woman’s appearance. You can bet that ASUS regrets that tweet.

You’ve probably already tweeted something that doesn’t reflect well on you and/or your organization. It was late, you felt that overwhelming urge to share and out it went. But it was probably a small thing. We’ve all been there. What you need to watch out for is the emotional tweet, or the tweet you think is utterly hilarious. This kind of tweet—the tweet you wish you could take back—can derail your career, embarrass your co-workers, provide ammunition to your competitors, affect a stock price.

You need to develop your own kind of inner alert that will go off when you’re typing out a tweet that may offend people you don’t want to offend. You don’t want that alert to go off after you’ve sent the tweet—that’s where painful regret begins. And until you’ve figured out what your inner alert sounds like, type slowly.

—Steve Goldstein

Follow Steve Goldstein: @SGoldsteinAI 

  • Anneliz Hannan

    Sound advice Steve. Why does a basic tenet of online communication so often go unheeded? (I know that is rhetorical question which I may regret for reasons of journalistic quality.)

    I understand that we all may make regrettable mistakes yet I see tweets that are blatantly denigrating or posted with malice. It just can not be socially justified in an environment that was established to engage, discover and connect not defile, debase and alienate.

    Thank you.

  • PR agency

    Giving out controversial tweet is a mistake done by many companies, including reliable red cross where an employee tweeted about his party and beer on the official twitter channel. However, companies need to quickly rectify it by accepting their mistake if it’s not too big or else the PR brigade will need to come to its rescue. Personally, we follow a double check method where every post is cross checked by another team member before going out to avoid sudden impulse and emotional urge to post something controversial.

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