Twitter Ethics?

Twitter is great tool that I use to connect with different people and professionals. It has brought great fellowship and a sense that we are all “in this together” as education professionals. It is good to know that “free speech” is alive and well in the Twitter-sphere and I would never want to censor the voices/viewpoints on social media.

As an educator, I try to be thoughtful about what I post and even when there is a disagreement (or a viewpoint that I have a hard time tolerating), I still keep things positive, professional, and civil. This got me thinking, what are the “educator ethics” to twitter – if there are any. I’m not talking about “cyber bullying” or “internet safety”, I am talking about a way of carrying ourselves as professional educators on Twitter. Here are a few “ground rules” that make sense to me (feel free to add your own or comment at the end of the post):

Follow back:
If someone follows you, try to follow them back. Seems simple, but if there isn’t a compelling reason to NOT follow someone, why not? It’s kind of a compliment to follow someone and kind of a “bad vibe” when someone doesn’t follow.

Blocking is the death penalty:
If someone is harassing you – report it or block them. BUT save the “death penalty” of blocking for those extreme cases. Just because someone has a different viewpoint or even “rubs you the wrong way”, blocking is extreme. Especially if it is over a different viewpoint/politics – don’t follow them, but blocking them kind of defeats the purpose of twitter, right? I hate to think that a different opinion in one area (#ccss for example) is worth trashing the relationship and limiting/hiding the other great contributions to the greater educational good.

Don’t turn your Twitter into a spamming account. Many of us like to blog and we need to put some attention on a recent post, but posting over and over to every chat you can think of is uncool. If you can work a blog post into a twitter chat, that’s great. A well-placed resource is helpful (especially when you are the author).

Never be rude:
Try not to call names, etc… Agree, make a point, defend your position – but keep it professional. We are all here to learn and connect with others.

Handle criticism gracefully:
I’d love to think that everyone agrees with me on everything – but that’s ridiculous. When someone does have a different viewpoint, don’t take it personal and don’t get sucked into that “defensive” posture. It’s great to have different opinions and we should all have permission to “agree to disagree”.

Disagree with some class:
I love a good discussion/debate, however barbs and jabs do little to move the conversation along. If you can’t resist a snarky comment – claim it. We are all professionals here, treat each other with basic respect. ESPECIALLY WHEN IT IS A HIGH STRESS TOPIC!

Okay, that’s my rant for the night. If you have any other ideas for “rules” then make a comment or reply on Twitter. I do have to confess… what drove me to write this post is that I was blocked for disagreeing with a post. Maybe I wasn’t super- polite about it or maybe the other person took it the wrong way. But it is a sad realization that I can’t follow this person or interact with them anymore because of the “death penalty” of being blocked.


One thought on “Twitter Ethics?

  1. Hi. I agree with you on all points but one: follow back. I’ve only used Twitter actively since last year and am excited when random people follow me. However I find that some of them do not have genuine intention(s). They follow because they want to have more followers and once they’ve achieved that, some of them would unfollow. My general rule is that I follow people/organisations that I could learn and have discussions with. I want quality tweets on my feed and quality followers.

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