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Twitter is perhaps the most interesting new communications tool to hit the web in years. Its simplicity is matched by its utility and for that reason, the service has grown massively in the past year.
Like all new communications tools, however, there's a dark side.
Last week it came to light that an avid Twitter user, Johnathan Powell of the United States, had been tweeting about a civil court case in which the jury awarded a $12.6m judgment. This wouldn't have been noteworthy except for the fact that Powell was a member of the jury and was tweeting about the case while it was still ongoing.
Two of his tweets, "So, Johnathan, what did you do today? Oh, nothing really. I just gave away TWELVE MILLION DOLLARS of somebody else's money!" and "Oh, and nobody buy Stoam. It's bad mojo, and they'll probably cease to exist, now that their wallet is $12M lighter", could lead to the judgment being thrown out and a new trial being granted.
This isn't the first time Twitter has made an appearance in court and I'm sure it won't be the last.
Then today I read a blog post from a Twitter user who noticed the following tweet:
Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.
A Cisco employee on Twitter responded:
Who is the hiring manager. I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the web.
In these cases the line between what is appropriate to share and what isn't has obviously been crossed. Thanks to the ease with which Twitter enables sharing, thoughts that would never have been spoken are now broadcast thousands of people in an instant. Verbal statements that would have been kept amongst friends and family are now spread across the internet, recorded for eternity.
Obviously this isn't Twitter's fault; Twitter is just a tool.
But that still doesn't mean that a little tweet can't cause a lot of twouble. If your next tweet involves a court case that you're privy to, a new job, criminal activity or something that might get your name printed in The New York Times, think twice before hitting that 'update' button. It's more twouble than it's worth.
Photo credit: Robert Scoble via Twitter.