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.

Patricio Robles

Published 18 March, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (4)

Jonathan Beeston

Jonathan Beeston, Director, New Product Innovation, EMEA at Media & Advertising Solutions, Adobe

Even in the 21st century, some people are still stupid. 

over 9 years ago


Thomas Ham

Technological evolution usually outpace natural evolution.

In fact technological evolution can slow down natural evolution

for some species of life on Earth.

An interesting take on evolution can be found

in Arther C Clarke's  Space Odyssey 3001, where an alien species

evolve to transcent time and space.

over 9 years ago


Holly Powell

We can not prevent exploit users sometimes.. Some people take it for granted.. It depends on the person. HE/she must know and understand what he is twitting about. Think and analyze.. Thanks for sharing this posts.

over 9 years ago



Ok, so I can argue that these users of Twitter were stupid, but...

I do take excpetion to this comment

Obviously this isn't Twitter's fault; Twitter is just a tool.

Napster was just a tool that allowed their users to share files. For that matter Napster didn't even hold on to the files (like Twitter holds on to the updates), they just indexed and pointed users toward the other user with the file they were looking for. If memory serves, somebody found a way to make the wrong. Why can't twitter be held responsible for this one in the same way?

over 9 years ago

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