Indigo Online: The apology button

By February 20, 2019Featured, Indigo Online, Social Media

We’ve all done it: you’ve got your story, your picture and your link, you marry them all together and hit the post button, but lo and behold there’s a mistake. Not to worry, just hit the edit button and fix the mistake – sorted! Everywhere except Twitter, that is.

Over the years Twitter has remained steadfast in not providing any way to edit posts; if something’s gone wrong, your only option is to delete the tweet and repost it. That could be about to change.

It’s been hinted that Twitter is considering having an option to ‘clarify’ your tweets. This doesn’t mean you can change your original tweet, but it would provide a framework to allow users to annotate their original post and provide clarification and additional context into its intended meaning. The idea is a response to several high profile incidents in recent months with tweets from yesteryear surfacing and causing controversy.

Nothing is hidden forever on the internet and even deleting a post isn’t a guaranteed failsafe, especially if someone has captured a screenshot of the offending tweet. Whenever a ‘clarified’ tweet is shared or embedded on a website, the clarification will be shown along with the original posting, leaving – in theory at least – less scope for users to misconstrue its original meaning.

Of course the business case for organisations relying on this new feature to hide their blushes is less than obvious. After all, the clarification is shown alongside original tweet, warts and all. So while it’s useful to have the chance to clarify why a mistake was made, most businesses and agencies will still wish to focus on ensuring that they get things right first time. Indeed, if a significant mistake has been made, odds are it’s far safer to take the tweet down as soon as possible, apologise and move on.

Where the feature is perhaps more useful is in the old-fashioned business of saying ‘sorry’ for content that was just plain obnoxious or wrong, rather than simply trying to explain away rash posts as the product of their time.

As ever, good corporate social media practices, such as having someone else sense check posts before they go out, can help prevent mistakes from creeping in the first place.  But if they do, and it’s too late simply to delete the post and move on, consider whether any new ability to clarify a tweet is really an opportunity to take responsibility and find the best form of apology, before your ‘clarification’ rings hollow and makes things worse.