Writer Robert MacMillan put it brilliantly in his Reuters article when he opened:
For the people’s obituary of Steve Jobs, look on Twitter. The death of Apple Inc’s visionary leader prompted an outpouring by Apple fans and customers that appeared to dwarf any news ever chronicled on the micro-blogging site.
Among Twitter’s social media roles is that of community notifying officer. Last night I learned of Steve Job’s death while on Twitter, and it was an amazing process to watch the sad news unfold. Word branched and traveled, posters dipped in and out to confirm the news, initial reactions were vetted, and heartfelt reactions were shared. Some were obviously grieving together, others weaving a broad spectrum of reactions. It’s a fascinating and profound connection many of us have come to count on when events of community, cultural, or political significance occur.
Sure, it wasn’t news that stopped everyone in their tracks, and that’s okay, too. Life goes on. Barring affronts to basic human dignity during a crisis, a diversity of things going on is one of Twitter’s greatest values.
Scheduled tweets stand out like a dirty, sore thumb during important times of breaking news. They look absolutely callous and robotic. And for this reason alone, I wish people would abolish the practice of scheduling tweets, forever.
Twitter is many different things to many different people, and I’m fine with promotion in my stream. I actually like following links to new blog posts, sales or other opportunities. But I like a person to be behind the account making the judgment call on whether to press publish, because otherwise the tweets are one-way streets. If I ask a question, no one is home. There’s no there there. That becomes horribly obvious when a hurricane hits, or person of note passes on, or other large-scale news breaks. Those scheduled tweets are rude noise of the inhuman kind.
Worse than rude, scheduled tweets could become dangerous noise. Twitter is a frequent topic amongst Emergency Managers for good reason–every agency from DHS to the CDC to local municipalities are putting stock in Twitter as a mass communications tool to be deployed. Your scheduled tweet in those scenarios is like miles of nails on the highway.
The only good thing? Scheduled tweets popping up during acute breaking news phases tell us who to unfollow.
What about you? Do you draw any lines in the Twitter sand? What about scheduled tweets?