Saturday, July 25, 2009

When Twitter Becomes Too Ubiquitous

A cautionary tale today about the near addictive and ubiquitous presence of Twitter. See, many folks use Twitter almost exclusively on their phone. For instance, some folks only interact with Twitter via text (SMS) messages, rather than dedicated clients or the like. As a result, many people blur the line between using Twitter as most folks do (as a one-to-many communications tool) and using it as just another form of text messaging. Normally, this is perplexing at worst, but sometimes, it can be downright problematical.

Case in point: today, Anthony Sullivan, the "pitchman" of the Discovery Channel show of the same name (with recently departed Billy Mays), was twittering away. Obviously, without thinking, he accidentally published his cell phone number on Twitter (see right). OUCH. Now, I've blacked out the actual number, but in looking at the Twitterverse, people are already calling and texting him. Imagine you are an inventor, looking to get a hold of a legendary pitchman to help you, and you see you can now have Anthony Sullivan's cell phone; what would you do? And pity poor King Sully: he is now getting bombarded with Twitter replies ranging from sympathy to scorn for the error, and he will most likely have to replace his cell number to avoid being overwhelmed.

It's hard to draw the line on what communications mechanisms do what, but it becomes more important than ever to maintain those controls. Personally, I prefer using Google Voice, as I can automatically determine certain people who can call/message me, and treat the rest like the spam they are. Would have saved Sully!

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