Thursday, 29 March 2012

What can you say?

The BBC recently wrote an interesting article asking what you can and can't say on twitter. You need not read the article, but merely be a rational human being to understand that there are certain things you simply cannot say or do on twitter. The most obvious, of course, being racism, although the BBC talk about some others which all fall under a criminal jurisdiction. Funnily enough, just as I write this, I got told something I tweeted was offensive. The tweet was "Trust a girls school to invite in a renowned philosopher to talk about philosophy of religion". That's obviously sexist, but let's be honest, it is a harmless joke - lighten up?! Or am I too liberal...perhaps. Either way, I certainly would not live in a world where I couldn't tweet something as harmless as that. (Oh update on this, just as I finished writing this post, the final reply was "next time you make an offensive joke, at least try and be funny". Ouch....Of course I will try.)

That aside, a recent tweet got me thinking. The tweeter will remain nameless, or "untagged" to use twitter language, but it was a tweet by a twitter account named after a football team and whose bio states it is dedicated to that club. The tweet was "BDSIsrael". Perhaps my bias viewpoint against this campaign doesn't help my judgement, but I would argue that twitter accounts have a certain duty to their followers to stick to tweeting about the stuff relevant to their name. I followed that account not for a political commentary but a commentary on the football club and, as they describe it as such, they have a duty to provide that. I wish to read football updates, not political updates - the whole reason for my follow goes out the window if they start providing something else.

Of course you may respond saying "twitter, you can tweet whatever from whatever account" - surely the account name shouldn't pose restrictions? But that is exactly where I would disagree with you. Because it is incredibly easy to set up a twitter account not specified to football or sport and tweet about whatever the hell you like. You'd get annoyed if the BBC News Twitter Service suddenly started tweeting about what his dog was having for lunch - you signed up to read news tweets, not personal ones! You should certainly avoid such controversial and highly charged issues on an account that is specifically for a certain football clubs views and thus people are following purely on the pretence that they will receive said views.

Opinion should be valued at all times. Of course it should but there is a time and a place. Political opinion does not belong on a football twitter account followed for football opinion. It is as simple as that.