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Look Out! It’s the Social Media Police


I just read another post about what not to do on Twitter. Yawn. Here we go again. If there’s one thing I’m learning is that there aren’t any rules. Just because someone doesn’t like what other people Tweet doesn’t mean he has to govern the place for everyone.

It’s getting old.

Every now and then a member of the social media police decides everyone needs to use the space like he does and anyone who doesn’t is just doing it wrong.


I realize there are certain rules of etiquette. Not too many people like DM spam or autoresponders, for example, and personal attacks aren’t cool at all. We all know there’s a difference between sharing and spam and most of us get it. What I don’t get is why one person feels it’s up to him (or her) to decide how everyone else should blog. Or use Twitter, or Foursquare…or Facebook.

Personally, I like when other bloggers tweet links to interesting blog posts, even their own. I enjoy reading new things and hearing new ideas. If I don’t like a person’s linking policy, I’ll unfollow. It’s not up to me to tell him not to share his stuff. And if the guy across the way wants to @reply everyone who reaches out to him, that doesn’t bother me, either. If I don’t like it, I’ll just unfollow. And if someone else doesn’t respond to everyone who speaks to him, so what? It’s not my business if he’s not into talking.

Ok, so maybe there’s a lot of unnecessary information happening, but who am I to decide what others should post? If I don’t want to know who’s eating at Dunkin’ Donuts, I’ll ignore or unfollow. Twitter is a public place, why would I tell someone to take it to DM? I wouldn’t tell the folks talking in the halls at a conference or at the supermarket checkout to get a room, why would I do that on Twitter? If I don’t like what I see, I’ll unfollow.

In fact, I feel so strongly about this, I’m taking back my post from the other day and if I wrote any other social media police posts, I’m going to take them back too. Go ahead, send me validation requests. I won’t pay attention to them, but it’s not up to me to decide how you should use Twitter. If you feel better having people prove themselves, then, by golly, it’s your right to do so.

Feel free to play Farmville as much as you want. Share mares and goats and little lambs if that’s what you enjoy. I won’t participate, hell, I may even unfollow you if you send me too many cows but it’s not up to me put a halt to your Mafia Wars addiction.

Go ahead, ReTweet to your heart’s content. Post 100 pictures of your puppies. Tell us about your blogs. I’m not the one who makes the rules. What you do is between you and your friends and followers. If they don’t like how you use the space, you’ll find out soon enough.

Until then, carry on.

Deb Ng is a professional blogger, social media consultant and founder of the Freelance Writing Jobs blog network. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @debng. Just don’t send her any cows.


  • Paul Matthews

    Deb, I couldn’t agree more. I haven’t put it illustrated it quite as elequently as you but I blogged about ‘the rules of social media’ just the other day: http://www.bulletpoints.co.nz/the-rules-of-social-media/. It really frustrates me how some people take it upon themselves to police this environment. I would say that people jumping on Twitter now, for example, are using it quite differently to the early adopters and neither are right or wrong.

  • Rick Calvert

    Great post Deb!

    Undoubtedly this argument is going to continue for a very long time. new media (I still like that term better than social media) is in it’s infancy and everyone has their own views of what is acceptable and whats not. In fact I guarantee that we are eventually going to see more government regulation and even laws regarding new media going forward.

    That’s what happens to any industry as it matures.

    I think your fight against the new media police is a noble one, but make no mistake nothing you say is going to stop any of the numerous interests out there from trying to get there way either through social pressure, or legal means.

  • Davina K. Brewer

    Deb, ITA and like Paul, I’ve blogged about my own SM rules, how I use Twitter, sort of a warning for any would be followers as to what they can expect from me. Aside from social media strategy, I’m not telling someone else how to tweet. So if someone does want to post nothing but Puppy Porn or play Farkle (and who doesn’t?) all day, then that’s fine; I am pretty quick with an unfollow if I don’t like what I see. FWIW.

  • Deb Ng

    Thanks, Paul. I think, as I said in the post, there’s a proper etiquette for sure, but everyone has a different reason for using the space. I use it for both business and pleasure, while others use it only to socialize or only to promote their stuff.

    Rick, I think you’re right. How many “Top 10 Things Not To Do On Twitter” posts do you think will happen before we get the official rule book?

    Hi Davina, there’s nothing wrong with letting people know what to expect, as long as you don’t expect them all to be like you. I tell everyone I talk way too much and if they don’t want to always see me in their Twitter stream they might not want to friend me. Some don’t but most do.

    It’s all about choices.

  • Rob Cottingham

    I’m with you on this, Deb – although I’d suggest that we all have some responsibility for due diligence when we install, say, Mafia Wars or Farmville so we know what kind of behaviour we can expect from them. That way, at least if we’re pestering our networks, we’re doing it deliberately. 🙂

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