“I very much doubt if anyone of us has the faintest idea of what is meant by the reality of existence of anything but our own egos.” – A. Eddington

Is Tweeting Ethical? — the question du jour — isn’t really a question. It’s a tautology[1] truthfully[2] twisted.[3]

Abstractly, tweeting is a planet-wide Phenom that is its own virus, re-infecting while reinforcing that you have something to say when you don’t.

Long-form writers like me see Twitter as innocuous, but ominous. The “Ethics Sage”[4] (not me) says, “You are what you tweet.”[5] I agree. His notion that we are what we tweet, “addresses proper behavior on social media. Let’s face it, some people use Twitter to vent, call out others they might disagree with, or post disparaging remarks about another person . . . Your postings on Twitter reflect the content of your character . . . Good ethics, is good ethics, and it does not matter whether you are tweeting at home, or in the workplace. The core values of honesty, truthfulness, respect, and responsibility form the basis of social media ethics.”

Whew, that’s a mouthful. Too long for a tweet.

Live-tweeting (sometimes called “sting tweeting”) has become “a staple of journalism and reporting. People post running tweets from lectures, from sports events, and from natural disasters. There has even been live-tweeting from police stings or raids, especially on sex workers — a practice that raises disturbing ethical dilemmas.”[6]

Twitter announced it “planned to tighten restrictions on spamming and automation. Normally this is publicly considered good news by everyone affected, but several bloggers and pundits have denounced the move. Instead of increasing penalties or targeting the actual spammers, Twitter has filed lawsuits against five 3rd-party developers who were involved in the creation of automated spamming tools, the most well-known of which is Tweet Adder.”[7]

Social media, and “especially Facebook and Twitter, enjoy planet-wide popularity . . .  Their regular black hats had their bots and macros, but as the lines blurred between the capabilities of a tool like Tweet Deck and a bot like Tweet Adder, regular users take advantage of programs that were explicitly allowed, although limited, in Twitter’s end user license agreement . . . why wouldn’t they . . . [Twitter] plays by its own rules.”[8]

Which brings me to America’s Twitter-In-Chief, our President, with a twist. The January 24, 2017 AP headline said, “U.S. Ethics Official Slammed For Unethical Donald Trump Tweets.”[9] In what sounds like an upside-down cake, it’s true. Members of Congress were aghast that a public official would tweet unkind words about Trump’s ethics. In tweets sent in November, 2016, Walter Shaub, Jr. Director of the Office of Government Ethics, congratulated Trump for agreeing to divest from his business — an agreement Trump had not yet made. Shaub later issued a scathing review of Trump’s plan to turn over control of his business to his sons, and he tweeted about it. House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee Chairman, Jason Chaffetz of Utah, called Shaub’s January tweets “highly unethical.”[10] Chaffetz, presumably happy with Trump’s nonplan to divest himself of his business interests, roiled about Shaub rather than Trump. The second round of tweets by Shaub reflected Republicans’ frustration with the ethics office and its operations — rather than Trump.”[11]

The Huffington Post is one of many so called media outlets to recognize how unfair tweeting is to introverts. They know introverts value their time alone. They think before they speak. They socialize alone better than in groups. They are, as Huff Po put it, “silently strong.”[12] Twitter has their back. Huff Po collects “spot-on tweets that capture what it’s like to be an introvert.”[13] Jane Grannemman wrote a fine essay about tweeting . . . “Too many weekend plans. Sensory overload when you forget your headphones. If you’re an introvert, you know the struggle is real. The things that excite and energize extroverts can be downright draining for us introverts, making us feel tired, irritable, and even physically unwell. Plus, there’s that whole ‘extrovert ideal.’ You know, the fact that we live in a society that tends to favor extroverts. Basically, we’re surrounded by the pressure to socialize, chat, and extrovert almost all the time. You can see why the Twitter hashtag #introvertproblems was born.”[14]

I see four takeaways from addictive twittering and staying silently strong. One, you are what you tweet. Two, your tweet is only as ethical as you are. Three, when tweeting, make sure you’re not subject to indictment or public opinion. Four, being invisible on Twitter is its own treat, or tweet.

[1] The needless repetition of an idea, statement, or word. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tautology

[2] A crude weapon used to by short-form writers to deflect, bob, weave, and otherwise confuse.

[3] Twisting is a fad that allows nice people to remove themselves to faraway places where they think it’s safe to misbehave.

[4] https://www.stevenmintzethics.com/.

[5] http://www.ethicssage.com/2017/02/you-are-what-you-tweet.html

[6] Is sting tweeting ethical? By Noah Berlatsky, June 9, 2014. http://www.digitalethics.org/essays/sting-tweeting-ethical

[7] https://blog.twitter.com/official/en_us/a/2012/shutting-down-spammers.html

[8] http://socialmediasun.com/twitter-ethics/

[9] http://fortune.com/2017/01/23/donald-trump-walter-shaub-ethics-tweets/

[10] Ibid.

[11] See, for example,  https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2017/07/19/

[12] https://www.huffpost.com/entry/introvert-tweets-august_n_5b8d9ddde4b0162f47260174

[13] Ibid.

[14] https://introvertdear.com/news/introverts-daily-struggles-tweets/