Internet Social Media

What Behavior Will Get You Into Trouble On Twitter

Joel Lee 02-10-2012

can you get in trouble on twitterThere used to be a time when an employer would laugh at you if you were an avid social media user. Nowadays, employers will think you’re a weirdo if you don’t use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or anything along those lines. And most dangerous part of social media? You’re giving everyone a glimpse into a slice of your life.


Let’s talk specifically about Twitter. Unless you’ve taken the exact steps necessary to make your Twitter account private, then anyone in the world can read your tweets–provided they have the means of doing so. For most people, this doesn’t really matter. The impact is tiny. But sometimes, those tweets will come back and bite you in the behind.

If you don’t watch what you say on Twitter, you may end up in trouble. Here are some examples of Twitter behavior that will fill you with regret and shame.

Bad Behavior #1: Slander & Flames

Slander is a malicious and defamatory statement made an individual against another person. Flames are incendiary messages that attack the character of another person. In the real world, both of these are improper at best, yet a lot of people seem to think that it’s okay on Twitter.

can you get in trouble on twitter

Disgruntled workers have been metaphorically spitting on their bosses behind their backs since the dawn of time. If you want to do it, that’s your purview; I can’t stop you. However, take heed to advice: if your boss happens to see your tweet, you can kiss your job goodbye, so if you want to talk behind his back, don’t do it on a public space that records your words.


Bad Behavior #2: Self-Incrimination

You ever hear of any stories that focus on the world’s dumbest criminals? In 99% of those cases, the criminal is caught because he incriminated himself in some way. Sometimes, they’ll share a little too much with the police. Other times, they’ll take pictures of themselves with a stolen iPhone and upload them online.

bad behavior twitter

The same thing happens on Twitter. In a mild case, you might accidentally let slip that you cheated on your significant other. Or that you lied to your boss so you wouldn’t have to clock in today. Or that you hacked your local police department’s websites.

A lot of self-incrimination comes from a proud and boastful heart. You just did–or are doing–something wrong and you just need to share that thrill with the world. Just know that you’re putting yourself out there to be discovered and trouble will find you soon enough.


Bad Behavior #3: Inappropriate Jokes

Now here’s an example of where non-malicious intent can backfire and get you in a whole heap of trouble. Imagine updating your Twitter with a joke message to your friend about how you’re angry and you’re going to “kill him.” The next thing you know, he turns up in a ditch somewhere and now you’re the prime suspect in a homicide case.

bad behavior twitter

Okay, that sounds a bit extreme, doesn’t it? But don’t be fooled. Similar cases have happened before, like the man who was arrested for terrorism based on a joke on his Twitter. Frustrated with weather delays at an airport, Paul Chambers tweeted the following:

“Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!”

Can you guess what happened next? Even though his threat was empty, counter-terrorism officers arrested him, his house was searched, and his electronic devices were all seized. In the end, this joke of a tweet set him back £1,000 and he lost his job.


Bad Behavior #4: Threats & Violence

According to Twitter’s Terms of Service, you may not post direct, specific threats of violence against others. Doing so may get your Twitter account suspended or banned if the Twitter team catches your post. However, in some cases, the penalties could be much, much worse.

bad behavior twitter

The Olympis Swiss soccer player, Michel Morganella, wrote a nasty tweet that ultimately had him kicked off the team. The original tweet was:

“Je les tous Defonce Coréens, allez vous tous Bruler, bande de trisos!”

Which roughly translates into:


“I want to beat up all South Koreans! Bunch of mentally handicapped retards!”

Borderline racism aside, it may be a good idea to keep such aggressive and hateful words out of your general vocabulary, but if you can’t help yourself then at least don’t put it up on a public pedestal where everyone can see it. Threatening others rarely ends well for either party.

Bad Behavior #5: Breaking The Rules

The dangers of Twitter reach up to professionals and celebrities, too. It’s not only the company workers who need to watch what they say, especially when sports league rules explicitly state that there are times when a player cannot be sending messages on Twitter.

can you get in trouble on twitter

In the NBA, players are not allowed to use any form of social media during a game. But what does “during a game” really mean? Apparently, the phrase encompasses the entire period starting 45 minutes before the beginning and up to 45 minutes after the game ends. When Brandon Jennings of the Milwaukee Bucks tweeted a tame message during that no-tweet period, he was fined $7,500.

Social media is just that: social. People can see what you write. If you want to avoid trouble when using a service like Twitter, just keep that in mind. If what you write can’t stand up to the scrutiny of the entire world, then it’s probably better off left unsaid.

Image Credits: Twitter Bird Via Shutterstock

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  1. Nethu Alahakoon
    October 4, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    I'm new to twitter and this would really help me!

  2. salim benhouhou
    October 3, 2012 at 8:11 am

    thank you joel now i know . i will avoid these behaviors

  3. Juan Carlos Espinosa Agudelo
    October 3, 2012 at 7:19 am

    Here in The Netherlands a 15 year old kid got arrested for tweeting something like "Let's overshadow the PROJECT X party in Haren!"

  4. Macwitty Karin Holmqvist
    October 3, 2012 at 6:55 am

    Another rule: don't post anything you can't stand for if it is on a papers frontpage

  5. Félix S. De Jesús
    October 2, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    Don't make tweets directly about bosses or persons, The Gossip have shoes.

  6. Bumferry Hogart
    October 2, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    General rule: If you wouldn't say it with your mouth, Don't say it with your fingers.

    • Achraf Almouloudi
      October 2, 2012 at 11:44 pm

      In a sentence, so simple .