There are certain situations in all our lives where we wish that we hadn’t said something that we did, be it inadvertently, in a fight we later regret, or a comment out of turn. In the social media sphere, a comment out of line or a rash tweet can be amplified many times. What can you do to rectify a mistake on the web when it can travel thousands of miles in a matter of seconds?
It is of course, not an easy thing to do. Once a tweet or a message has been posted, no matter how quickly it is deleted, those few choice words will be in the cache of many users’ hard drives through their desktop applications or temporary Internet files. It is there, in permanence, forever.
So what can you do?
I would suggest that you give it 20 minutes, calm down after realising the error that has been made, and then craft a message that will apologise for any offence caused and apologise to your employer if they have been implicated in the matter. I would suggest NOT deleting the offensive post. My reasoning for this is that once the text is ‘out there’ it will be findable through various searches, and as mentioned before, temporary internet caches and the like.
If you delete it, this highlights that you have something to hide and could indicate that you’re actively trying to push the matter under the virtual rug. Again, this may antagonise anybody offended into posting your deleted message and then sharing it with a wider community.
Leaving the message live will show that you have nothing to hide and that you are aware of the mistake you have made. You could even use the error to explain your experience at a later date and encourage others not to do the same thing – think of it as the footballer with a gambling problem overcoming his addiction and going on to help other addicts battle their problems.
Information is so freely available that it is awkward trying to fix a mistake, especially on Twitter. Accept that an error was made and move on. Better still, read your text before you hit the enter button and don’t give yourself the opportunity to be put in the spotlight for a careless 15 seconds of thoughtlessness.