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Do You Reply To Offensive-Sounding Twitter Account Names?

December 8, 2010
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Someone (a random person) mentioned to me on Twitter the other day that I should watch who I @ reply after I responded to someone who had a Twitter username that referred to Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a “loser.”

My mention of the account was made from the @KIRO7Seattle account, which is to say, it was from the account of a news brand — no different than The New York Times, for instance, replying to someone named @ObamaIsAFailure.

My attitude was, and is, I don’t really care about people’s politics and I was merely responding to someone who asked a legitimate question (not even having to do with politics, for whatever it’s worth). The comment telling me to “watch it” seemed to insinuate that by @ replying this (apparent) anti-Pelosi-ite, I was somehow endorsing his or her assessment of Speaker Pelosi.

Frankly, that seemed ridiculous to me.

If someone from an account named @SaveTheSpaceShuttle asked me a question and I responded, would anyone care? Probably not. Would anyone think KIRO was endorsing saving NASA’s space shuttle program? Probably not.

At the same time, responding to an account with a truly offensive name — the N-word, an F-word or something else along those lines — gives me pause.

Ultimately, I responded to the “watch it” commenter with this:

“Person at [the Pelosi/”loser”] account asked a legitimate question, we responded. Only way we wouldn’t is if acct. name was esp. egregious.”

(Note: I’m not posting the full conversation or linking to anyone’s Twitter names because these people didn’t ask for any attention over the issue and I see no reason to direct it their way.)

Is my “policy” any good? Is it fair? Does it make sense? What’s your policy for responding to offensive-ish Twitter accounts? I would love to hear your feedback, so please leave a comment.

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