Reading East MP Rob Wilson got himself into hot water this week by tweeting a link to a porn site. He apparently intended to share a political story about Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, but instead his 3,700 followers were greeted with material of a rather more sensational kind.
The MP, who sent the link to prolific political blogger Guido Fawkes, was quick to realise his mistake and deleted the tweet. He also passed the blame to Conservative Campaign HQ, saying they had originally sent him the link, which allegedly shortened via the online service tinyurl. Somewhere along the line, said Wilson, the link had gone hardcore.
It may be an easy mistake to make, but it was also one the MP should have been wary of – not least because in 2009, David Cameron was widely reported as saying: ‘Too many tweets might make a t***.’ Even more recently, the Tory party leadership reminded MPs to think before they tweet.
Even the most basic social media guidelines will warn to you to reread your messages and check what you are sending before making them public, if not, you risk tweeting dud links at best. At worst, though, you could end up alerting your followers to malicious or sensitive content. Obviously those dangers are highlighted if you are a public figure and have thousands of contacts (not least as many journalists look to social media for story ideas these days).
Rob Wilson will probably be a bit more careful next time…
Will Edwards is managing director at media training consultancy Bluewood Training