Patrick Meier of iRevolution (one of my absolute favorite blogs on social media’s use in disaster and emergency management) recently wrote about two new apps that allow you to put a time limit on your tweets: TwitterSpirit and efemr. By simply adding a hashtag to the end of your tweet (e.g.: #2m for 2 minutes, #4h for 4 hours, #1d for 1 day) the app makes sure that your tweet self-deletes in the amount of time designated; and apparently there’s a good chance that all retweets of the tweet get deleted along with the original.
Although the mission behind these apps goes against what Twitter is all about, they may prove to come in handy during emergency and specific crisis management scenarios. For example, as Meier wrote in his article:
“This is particularly true when social media is used to communicate during crises. Indeed, social media users tend to volunteer personal identifying information during disasters that they otherwise would not share, such as phone numbers and home addresses. They typically share this sensitive information to offer help or seek assistance. What if we could limit the visibility of these messages after their initial use?”
As useful as these apps may prove to be in certain crisis management situations, my hesitation lies within misuse of the apps by organizations and individuals. Twitter is not about deleting tweets. In fact, organizations get crucified when they wrongfully delete tweets in sticky situations. And although the tweet will be labeled with the self-destruction hashtag – giving viewers an indication that the tweet is not meant to last for long – I wouldn’t want to see organizations and individuals launch themselves into crisis or issue situations due to their misuse of the apps.
Remember: Just because a tweet is set to self-delete doesn’t stop others from taking a screenshot, writing about it, sharing it on different channels (or on Twitter with a picture), etc. We’ve seen tweets that were deleted within seconds after being tweeted go down in searchable history (and go viral with blog posts, news articles and social mentions), never mind a tweet that is labeled with a self-deletion hashtag.
It’s your turn. What do you think of these two new Twitter apps?
Author of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. Agnes is a coveted keynote speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today’s leading organizations faced with the greatest risks. Learn more about Melissa and her work here.