We have news again today about somebody in trouble because of Twitter.
This follows the posting of racists tweets aimed at footballer Carlton Cole after his club West Ham lost badly at the weekend. The tweeter came out with racist comments and has been arrested for a racism related offence.
When will they ever learn? This again demonstrates the power of twitter and social media generally. The offender might have thought that only his followers would see his comments. But if you target a well know personality with over 55k followers it goes to another dimension. If he retweets then at least another 55k people see what is written. If they all retweet then we are talking in millions. It would be like going on live TV, racially abusing a well known character and then wondering what the fuss was about! The offender deserves all he gets.
This multiplying of information can be a good thing. There have never been better opportunities for anyone with a serious message to reach huge numbers in a short space of time. I was in Egypt in 2011 when the uprising began. I was following developments on Twitter well before I started getting calls from home to check that I was safe even though I was 250 miles from Cairo. News is almost instant and can be interactive. Every BBC presenter seems to have a twitter account. I have commented on news stories, mentioned the presenter and had a response on more than one occasion.
The same goes for Facebook and LinkedIn. My current ‘reach’ according to LinkedIn is approaching 5m. So if all of my contacts pass on something I say to all their contacts then that is how many people will see it. That is almost the population of Singapore – not that I would want the entire population of a nation to read a tweet but you get the idea. It is big. You could reach infinity and beyond!
It is not hard to see why businesses, politicians and activists see the importance.
But getting back to the news at hand it also shows why you have to careful. These three Social Media giants should have a health warning. What you put out could seriously damage your liberty if you are not careful.