Startup Blog

#NYTFail #IranElection - Why Twitter Users Need to Think Before Tweeting

Posted by Mike Volpe on 6/17/09 1:44 PM

sheep herd twitter

A big topic on Twitter today related to the Iran Elections was the #NYTfail topic accusing the New York Times of subjecting Iranian demonstrators to potential danger by "exposing" the usernames of people on Twitter and tweeting from Iran.

For example, this tweet was really popular: "Please RT! NYT publishing sensitive names of Iranians on Twitter. Get them to stop! #NYTfail #iranelection"

Really?  Someone's Twitter username is a secure piece of data?  Isn't Twitter totally public and open? (Yes, it is!)  Your Twitter username is no less public than your website URL or LinkedIn profile.  Your tweets are broadcast around the world, indexed by Google, stored in lots of databases.  Your followers names are public and easily accessible, as are all of your tweets and the people you follow.  If you want to remain anonymous, you need to use an anonymous name and be careful not to mention anything personally identifiable.

So, as far as the #NYTfail #iranelection thing... get over it!  The New York Times did nothing wrong, and probably did a lot right by publishing the story and spreading more light on what is happening in Iran.

Twitter users need to use their brain.  Twitter is a fast moving and quite viral medium, which is good and bad.  News travels fast.  I have seen Amber Alerts spread fast on Twitter - a good thing.  But today the #NYTfail "news" that was completely false and misleading became a hot topic because of hysteria and a herd mentality.  Please... if you are on Twitter, use your brain before just blindly retweeting other messages.

Photo credit: michaelbrittain

Mike Volpe

Written by Mike Volpe

Mike Volpe is a startup advisor and angel investor based in Boston.

Topics: Twitter

Subscribe to Email Updates

Let's Connect