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The Tweet Imperative: Practitioner Beware

Little story today about problems at a tween star's autograph signing, but one with major implications for communicators who regularly use Twitter to advise, inform and attract people to events.

There are different versions of the story around - one says the executive was arrested for not tweeting when told, while another says it was because he tweeted too much, drawing a large, over-stimulated, hormone-fuelled crowd of screaming teens.

Whatever the actual situation, practitioners and communicators everywhere should take careful note of this one. For example, how does 'being ordered to communicate' sit with free speech? What if, in your professional opinion, tweeting would make the situation worse? And what impact would that have on your organisation's reputation? 

Equally, in a 'non-democratic' environment, what if you are 'ordered' to tweet something that will put others in danger? And for the journalists who live tweet material - what if your story is the catalyst that causes chaos? What liability would mainstream media assume?

This is a small story about an action taken - or at very least suggested - by some US police officers. Its implications however, are enormous, not necessarily at this moment, but certainly as we rush towards the future. Bet there are a few people out there live tweeting events as I write. As the event manager are you at some point, going to be held responsible for what they say or the actions their tweets precipitate?

I know it's a consideration that I'll be building into programmes from here on in. 

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