This online story has some classic examples of Twitter gone bad, compliments of singer Usher's soon-to-be ex-wife Tameka. And since I don't personally know Usher and never followed either of them on Twitter - I can't even tell you if the reported story is remotely true - but think the lessons apply to all Twitter users regardless of the circumstances.
1. Watch out for the Direct Messages. I learned my first week on Twitter how easy it is to accidentally send a direct message (DM) meant for one person out to everyone. Story says Tameka thought she was sending a Direct (private) Message to Star Jones complaining about how "horrible" her divorce attorney is - but instead sent it to everyone. So people learned they were in fact getting a divorce and she created a little issue with a very public criticism. Lesson: Don't send anything out on Direct Message you wouldn't want the world to see. They probably will see it if you handle the D or DM wrong - and it turns into a Reply (to all). You're one space away from that typing mistake.
2. Follow You, Follow Me? Twitter users apparently noticed that Tameka was following Usher on Twitter, but he wasn't following her. Ouch. And she got really defensive about the accusations. So, if you don't follow someone, it means you have a relationship issue with them - or it's a one-way relationship? No wonder Twitter is full of thousands of people following thousands people they surely aren't really following (reading). Perception.
3. Being defined (negatively) by the types of things you post. The article has this description, "One would think that [Tameka] would have Twitter mastered by now, as she regularly uses the social networking site to misquote Bible verses and inspirational affirmations lifted from various spiritual gurus." Don't we all get defined by what we're blogging or twittering about too? What would you say about me - "she regularly complains about how much she hates to fly which is probably because it means she's missing today's Oprah." I remember reading blog posts by a new association exec and based on the content all I could think is that I'd be surprised if she lasted two years in day-to-day association management. She didn't.
4. Authenticity is as fake as you want to make it. Although apparently separated for a year, she's accused of disguising their non-relationship by tweeting love notes and giving random reports - such as saying Usher was at the grocery store. The famous New Yorker cartoon (of a dog typing at a computer) "on the Internet, no one knows you're a dog" applies to Twitter too. Anyone can create and report any kind of fake life and fake info. The word authentic is included every other word in the way evangelists describe Twitter. Please, how do any of us know what is and is not authentic - especially on Twitter? How can people really call someone out for a post if they have absolutely no idea about that person's real life? Maybe Tameka was reporting real things. How would anyone else really know? Comedian Kathy Griffin tweets that she's involved with Larry King and Sanjaya - I think it makes a point.
5. Another way for a direct attack. Whether celebrity or association, Twitter provides yet another way for a direct attack by gossipers, enemies or anyone wishing to "create" a story. And it's an easy way to spread any info put out there. Really, really easy. Whether we like it or not.
Coming soon: What I've learned my second month on Twitter.