Twitter secrets give pause for thought

25th Mar 2019


I confess to using Twitter and occasionally I’ve been known to be provocative and stir things up – all in a good cause of course. But following the tweets of some key people, working in our policy area, gives pause for thought.

There’s a great so-called caveat that Twitter users adopt. Their profile says something like “tweets are in a personal capacity” and not of my employer. No it looks like a great cop-out. Your day job informs your tweets, but then what you write has nothing to do with your day job. I don’t believe it either.

So let’s just pose the reverse logic. What if your “personal” views start to colour the work of your day job – your views become those of your employer. Is this possible – of course it is. When choices have to be made in your day job, it is incredibly difficult to ignore your default setting and personal beliefs.

Does it matter? Well if you accept that this can happen, looking at what these key people have tweeted in a “personal capacity”, matching it with “official” employer views may give us some interesting insights. And yes beg the question, did the job inform the personal or vice versa?

So taking at random an organisation, the Climate Change Committee and a couple of key staff. One tweeted, in a personal capacity, their criticism of a trade union for speaking up for its members working in the gas industry; another “liked” a tweet (ie gave their support) to an academic that accused the GDNs of exaggerating the peak heat demand requirements of the UK. Again, was this support personal or professional? Both work in the policy sphere, so their day role has a direct impact on the gas industry.

If an organisation such as the CCC cannot be seen as objective in its assessment, then it ceases to have value. It is already under fire over allegations surrounding its Chair, it now desperately needs to show its objectivity. For its key staff, the old adage (in a modern setting) “tweet in haste, repent at leisure” springs to mind.

Best wishes

Mike Foster