How Do You Deal With Twitter Mistakes?

The internet is full of examples of Twitter mistakes made by even the most professional users. Some that stand out were media sources announcing the death of the still giving Gabriel Giffords in 2011, the accidental leak of Listen With Friends on Facebook, and of course many direct messages posted as tweets that revealed embarrassing information. Such as when Michael Jordan’s son propositioned a porn star, asking her for ’round two’.

But it isn’t just celebrity and professional accounts that lead to tweeting faux pas. Plenty of us have had a bad day and said something we wish we hadn’t out of anger, or accidentally tweeted a direct message we didn’t mean others to see. Sometimes it is as simple as making a spelling error, which can still be a bit blush-worthy.

Since Twitter’s live update makes mistakes immediately viewable by your follow list, you might think there is nothing to do about it when this happens. Even if you delete a tweet, it might have been retweeted. Or worst, it might have been screencapped and posted somewhere else. But you would be wrong; there are a couple of ways you can fix Twitter errors, and keep yourself from making them a second time.

  • Don’t Delete Unless You Have To. A full delete is a problem because it looks as though you are hiding something. Even when it is gone from your own feed, it might still exist in a rewteeted post from another user, or screencapped somewhere else. Instead, take the original post and run it through a strikethrough generator, such as this one from Adam Varga. Reposted this way, it will act as a retraction instead of a deletion, and signal to users that you take it back or to ignore it.
  • Apologize ASAP. If you do have to delete, or if you strikethrough as a retraction, apologize as quickly as you can. Just a quick message saying you take it back, or explaining the mistake you made, should suffice. Be matter of fact about it, and remember that a casual ‘sorry’ goes a long way to diffusing a potential situation. If it is a big mistake and you want to expand on your apology, post it to your blog or website then link it to your Twitter account.
  • Double Check Before You Post. This one should be common sense, but I know I am not the only one guilty of forgetting to do it. You have to be positive that you are posting the right kind of message to the right person, and in the right place. Especially when you are posting private messages, as the latest design of Twitter makes it a little less clear than it used to be. You should also check your ‘@’, which is my own most common mistake. I have lost count of how many times I have posted something to the wrong person, which is easy to do if you have a lot of comments to respond to.
  • If In Doubt, Wait It Out. Recognize this scenario? It is after midnight and you are tired. You should be in bed, but a quick check to Twitter on your phone seems like a great idea before you slip into dreamland. What’s this? An insulting post by someone on your Twitter feed, telling you that you suck and your mother looks like a badger? This cannot stand! Tired and already cranky, you post a series of angry tweets that become more offensive with each publication. Fuming, you put down your phone and feel that you put that jerk in his place. Until you wake up in the morning and realize what an idiot you were for feeding the troll. Before you post, ask yourself: Will I feel good about this in an hour? What about tomorrow? If there is any doubt, take some time to cool off and think it through before you tweet.

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