Twitter Etiquette: Are Tweets Fair Game?
TAP’s Adam Serwer and TPM’s David Kurtz independently report that ABC’s Jake Tapper has blocked them from following his Twitter feed. They note the irony that a journalist who expects politicians to be transparent is doing this.
I happen to follow Tapper — and am apparently not important enough to block — and see that he has unblocked TPM and that he’s engaged in tweets the last couple of hours about “rudeness” on his feed. Steve Benen suggests that said “rudeness” was a snarky comment Serwer posted on his blog directed at Tapper and offers his view that “blocking those who offer mild criticism seems kind of petty.”
Whatever. Frankly, Tapper has 5197 followers and he can block whoever he likes. I have a mere 736 followers and don’t block anyone unless they’re obvious spammers.
The forgoing is a rather long and diversionary setup for what this post is actually about, inspired by the headlines of Benen’s (“Tapper, Twitter, and Online Etiquette”) and Serwer’s (“This Feed is Closed to the Press”) posts displayed at memeorandum. Namely, what exactly is the etiquette of Twitter if you’re a journalist?
Is Twitter a semi-private conversation between friends? Or is it considered a public forum similar to a blog post?
Given the nature of the media, I don’t post anything on Twitter or Facebook that I expect to be private. Then again, I mostly use social media to push blog posts and glean information for writing blog posts.
But people younger than I tend to use these fora to “microblog” every inane thought that pops into their head. Are such tweets fair game for publication? If so, Tapper is quite right to block any follower who might be inclined to embarrass him with some half-baked thought he dashed off while waiting in line at the Starbucks.
Perhaps Twitter needs to have some sort of journalistic code wherein individual users can specify how their Tweets are to be treated?