Social networking is incredibly popular. Twitter has more than 328 million monthly active users, while Facebook has over 2 billion.
Twitter is a great tool for meeting people and sharing and engaging in debate, but it has been in the news a lot recently for negative reasons.
Along with Facebook, it's been accused of not doing enough to combat hate speech. It's also proving slower than other platforms to ban alt-right users from spreading misogynistic and racist views.
Obviously if you're not spreading such views, you're on pretty safe ground with Twitter. But there are still some guidelines to be mindful of. And remember, once you've posted something, it's there for all to see, and could come back to haunt you even after you've deleted it. The internet never forgets...
1: Think before you hit send: Take time to think before you tweet. The instant nature of Twitter makes it easy to fire off a few words, click send and forget about it.
Is there anything there you wouldn’t want your employer or family to see? Is there anything overtly personal or offensive to others?
Twitter is a public forum. Unless you protect your tweets, what you write is visible to everyone. You may only have a small number of followers, but all it takes is for one or two people with large followings to retweet and thousands of people will see your comment.
2: The law applies on Twitter: Threaten or slander someone on Twitter and you can be arrested or sued, as Sally Bercow found out to the tune of £100,000, when judges found she had libelled Lord McAlpine. Don’t be tempted to retweet either.
Don’t hide behind your keyboard - if you are talking about someone, don’t say anything you wouldn’t say to their face.
3: Spelling and grammar: If you are engaging other users and responding to Tweets, avoid making spelling mistakes.
You aren’t going to get in trouble (there’s no grammar police on Twitter), but if you work in a professional capacity, spelling mistakes look lazy.
4: Use multiple tweets: Don’t feel you have to cram everything into 140 characters. Spread what you want to say over several tweets.
5: Photos: Think before uploading photos. You might not mind sharing your pictures on Twitter, but it’s not always appropriate if there are other people in the picture, particularly young children.
Consider who will see the photograph. Do you really want your employee (or potential future employee) to see your holiday snaps? What you consider harmless fun, may not be the same as your employer.
6: Delete if necessary: In the event you do post something inappropriate, take it down as soon as possible. Remember it takes seconds for someone to screenshot and make a copy of your tweet, so again, think before you post.
7: Be careful with retweets: Respect someone else’s intellectual property. Don’t copy a tweet and pass it off as your own. Twitter has a retweet button – use it.
Do not retweet or share something unless you trust the source, particularly if it contains a link. You might inadvertently retweet spam or inappropriate content.
8: Use hashtags sparingly: Adding a hashtag to your tweet gives it more chance of being discovered.
Use the hashtag #topgear and your tweet will appear every time someone searches Twitter for that term. Organisations use hashtags as a method of tracking tweets - for competitions or TV discussions.
One or two hashtags are enough per tweet. Use any more and your tweet looks strange and invariably the meaning is diluted.
9: Avoid spoilers: As a courtesy to your fellow users, avoid the temptation to tweet the twist in the latest blockbuster or ending to the hottest US drama.
10: Go private: If you really don’t want people to see your tweets, protect them. Log in, click the Settings icon, Settings and tick Protect my tweets.