Zip your Twitter

Feb 28, 2008

Last night, just before I checked out, I sat down on the bed to post the last couple of items. In between those entries, I updated my Twitter account to answer a friend’s question about which camera we purchased for Erin’s trip to Africa (we’ve yet to post her great photos, but a few are on our Flickr space).

A few minutes later, though, I noticed my Twitter account was getting updated by someone else — the first post was just one generic word, but the next post was somewhat obscene (about a body part).

Twitter, if you don’t know, is a microblogging tool for sharing short updates with a cohort of friends, or followers. As with my blogging and other online communication, I’ve been very careful about choosing my words and activities to reflect a professional, humble identity.

So, the obscenity was completely out of character for what I’d post. Not to mention, someone else was posting on my account!

I quickly deleted the obscenity, and then the Twitter service went down. Turns out I wasn’t the only user to experience posts not their own.

This was a very serious error, in my opinion — the Twitter mistake, albeit small and quickly remedied, jeopardized my carefully managed identity. Which is to say, if you have an online identity, you’ve got to be vigilant in how others are seeing it and mediating it.

Anyway, just as I needed a couple of months to retreat and recuperate after the science blogging conference last year, I’ve been slowly getting my priorities balanced and projects realigned. Today, I decided I needed to step away from Twitter, and a few other activities and projects, so that my family, my home, my health and my work can get the attention they need.

Anton Zuiker

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