Twitt-iquette: Top 10 Twitter Faux Pas

Governor holds folding knife in Twitter video on budget cuts.

ByABC News
July 1, 2009, 5:13 PM

July 23, 2009— -- Why in the world is Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger seen wielding a two-foot-long knife in a video link posted onTwitter?

In a 27-second clip posted Tuesday, the husky governor addresses the Twittersphere while holding a two-foot-long knife.

While the state wrestles with a $26 billion deficit, the celebrity turned Republican governor posted the video as a thank-you to constituents for their ideas on how to pay down the massive deficit, particularly one suggestion to autograph and then auction off state-owned cars.

"Hey guys, I just want to say thanks very much for all the great ideas you're giving me," he said. "You come up with great ideas. Why not just sign the cars since you're a celebrity governor? Sign the cars and sell it for more money. … That's exactly what we're going to do."

According to The Associated Press, Schwarzenegger's spokesman Aaron McLear said the knife was a gift from a friend and arrived Tuesday. He also said the governor actually does intend to sign state vehicles before they're auctioned off in late August. Officials estimate that selling 15 percent of the state's 40,000 government-owned cars could raise about $24 million.

When a reporter asked Schwarzenegger Wednesday whether the video was appropriate, given how seriously the budget cuts are affecting the lives of some Californians, the governor went on the defense.

"Not that I have fun with making the cuts -- they sadden me -- but ... that doesn't mean that you cannot wave a knife around, or to wave your sword around, to get the message across that certain cuts have to be made because it's budget time," Schwarzenegger said during a news conference.

Schwarzenegger's not the first public figure to court controversy on Twitter.

Most would argue that the micro-blogging site that has attracted millions of users, including celebrities and politicians, is a powerful tool for communication. But it's amazing how much trouble 140 characters can cause.

Just like hitting "reply all" instead of sticking with the simple "reply," one errant Twitter message -- the maximum post is 140 characters -- available for all with an Internet connection to see, can send its author ducking for cover.

"While Twitter is a new tool that brings with it some new possible ways to make mistakes, people make mistakes in all of the different communications we already have," said Sarah Milstein, author of "The Twitter Book" and social media consultant (she was the 21st user of Twitter). "What makes Twitter different is that the messages are public so that anyone can see them."

Like a blog, Twitter is public but, unlike a blog, the messages, photos and links can easily be re-tweeted or passed along virally to other users, she said. That combination means that regrettable postings can be sent far and wide and then, to make matters worse, easily searched for on Google.

"Be thoughtful about your posting, be interesting, because Twitter is a medium where people choose to get your message," Milstein said. "If you're thoughtful about your individual messages, it also helps to take a step back when you're doing something potentially inflammatory or that you may regret later."

Here are nine other people who might have been helped by that bit of advice.

In early July, author Alice Hoffman caught some flack for getting huffy with a critic via Twitter. Hoffman wasn't too pleased when Roberta Silman said Hoffman's novel "lacked the spark of earlier work" and that "the author doesn't deliver" in a Boston Globe review of her new book, "The Story Sisters."

According to the tweets reprinted on Gawker, she called Silman a "moron" and said "no wonder there is no book section in the Globe anymore."

Her tweets continued, until finally Hoffman committed a major social media no-no and posted Silman's phone number on Twitter in case followers wanted "to tell Roberta Silman off."

Her tiff generated such a buzz that she finally issued an apology through her publicist.

"I feel this whole situation has been completely blown out of proportion. Of course I was dismayed by Roberta Silman's review which gave away the plot of the novel, and in the heat of the moment I responded strongly and I wish I hadn't.

"I'm sorry if I offended anyone. Reviewers are entitled to their opinions and that's the name of the game in publishing. I hope my readers understand that I didn't mean to hurt anyone and I'm truly sorry if I did," she wrote.

If you're heading out of town, should you think twice before tweeting it out to your followers?

One Arizona man thinks so.

Before leaving with his wife in June, Israel Hyman told his approximately 2,000 Twitter followers that they were "preparing to head out of town," that they had "another 10 hours of driving ahead" and later, that they "made it to Kansas City," CNET reported at the time.

But when they returned home, they found that someone had broken into their home and stolen video equipment he used for his video business – to the tune of a few thousand dollars.

"My wife thinks it could be a random thing, but I just have my suspicions," he told The Associated Press. "They didn't take any of our normal consumer electronics.

"The customers have never met me in person," Hyman said. "Twitter is a way for them to get to know me. I forgot that there's an inherent danger in putting yourself out there."

Det. Steven Berry of the Mesa Police Department, which is investigating the burglary, said: "You've got to be careful about what you put out there. You never know who's reading it."