If You Tweet It, They Will Come... And Arrest You?

I’ve discovered a lot of ridiculous and sensational stories on Twitter over the past year – the balloon boy hoax, for example – but when I found this one about a man being arrested for a stupid little tweet, I thought it was worth rehashing.

On January 6th, 2010, U.K-resident Paul Chambers was stranded at the Robin Hood Airport(South Yorkshire, England) due to heavy snow. Annoyed and frustrated by the closures and grounded flights, Chambers decided to vent his (understandable) anger via sarcastic tweet. His message read; “Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your *&^% together, otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!!"

One week later, Chambers was arrested under the U.K’s Prevention of Terrorism Act and interrogated for seven hours because he was perceived as a major “security threat.” This mild-mannered guy has since been released on bail, but is currently suspended from his job and banned from the airport for life.

This is really extreme, of course, but worth noting. After all, our tweets are not private, they’re public. It may seem obvious, but it's worth repeating.

This doesn’t mean that you have to overly censor yourself or cancel your Twitter account, of course, it just provides a friendly reminder that sometimes you need to ask yourself (especially if you're using a corporate account), “Am I ok with the public seeing this?” And, if the answer is “no,” then you may want to rethink it.

Stories like these can make Twitter and other public media sites seem more intimidating than they really are, but I assure you that's not the intention of this blog post. Instead, I think this story makes a strong argument for having a third-party, your PR team for instance, help develop your tweets and work with you to tactfully build your reputation and expand your reach online.

So, my advice is to use Mr. Chambers’ predicament as a dramatic example of how a few words can quickly undermine your credibility and remind yourself that whenever you write something, you own it.

*Read the full story on Mr. Chambers' tweet by going to the Independent.co.uk.

Contributed by: Gretchen Doores Follow her on Twitter: @canadiangal84