Challenges to Ethical Behavior For Ethicists
Goodbye, President Trump

The Twitter Golden Rule: Tweet others the way you want to be Tweeted

You Are What You Tweet

I like the expression “You Are What You Tweet” because it addresses proper behavior on social media. Let’s face it, some people use Twitter to vent, call out others they might disagree with, cancel others whose behaviors are offensive to some person or group, or post disparaging remarks about another person.

According to a Pew Research Study, the most active tweeters produce a large amount of content relative to the rest of the Twitter population. But the scope of these differences is profound. The median Twitter user posts just two times a month, but the most prolific 10% of Twitter users in terms of tweet volume produce a median of 138 tweets monthly. In fact, this analysis estimates that the top 10% of tweeters are responsible for 80% of the tweets created by all U.S. adults on Twitter.

Members of the top 10% of tweeters have distinct attitudes, behaviors and personal characteristics compared with those who use the platform less often. These prolific tweeters are more likely to be women: 65% are, compared with 48% of the bottom 90% of tweeters. And these most active tweeters are much more likely than others to say they post about political issues. Fully 69% of the top 10% most prolific tweeters say they have tweeted about politics, compared with 39% of Twitter users generally.

Tweeting and Character Ethics

Your postings on Twitter reflect the content of your character. Social media ethics is no different than workplace ethics. Good ethics, is good ethics, and it does not matter whether you are tweeting at home or in the workplace. The core values of honesty, truthfulness, respect, and responsibility form the basis of social media ethics. Understanding your behavior on social media provides insight into your own personality as well as how others perceive you. Germany Kent, an expert on social media etiquette, links ethical behavior on Twitter with ethical behavior in life through his statement: “The Twitter Golden Rule: Tweet others the way you want to be Tweeted.” Twitter Ethics

Kent says: “Your Twitter profile is your business card. It creates a first impression about who you are. It serves as a “mini-resume” as well as your “mini-autobiography. Social media can be great for your image if you utilize it in an effective manner. Tweets have power because words have deep meaning. Be thoughtful towards others will carry you far on Twitter.

Why do people Tweet?

The American Press Institute conducted a survey on “How people use Twitter in general.” One finding is 31 percent use Twitter “to tell others what I am doing and thinking about.” It is here that social media ethics has its greatest role: Communication with others about your feelings and beliefs go a long way to reveal the kind of person you are (i.e. caring and compassionate or selfish and abrasive). So many of us rely on Twitter as an outlet for our feelings – the good, the bad, and the ugly. We all know people who use Twitter to communicate their feelings in an overly-aggressive manner. The most well-known person to do so is our 45th President – Donald Trump.

People use Twitter to vent their feelings because it serves as an outlet to discharge negative emotions rather than keeping them bottled up. However, if you are emotionally entangled in what happened to you, your judgment may be clouded and your instinct to get back at someone for what they said can lead to more aggressive behavior. One critical tweet begets another and before you know it, you have slide down the ethical slippery slope and there is no "tweeting" back. Tweeting before thinking is a sure way to damage friendships and relationships.


Tweeting can get you in trouble if you are overly-aggressive towards another person’s point of view. In today’s world it doesn’t take much to activate the trolls who are looking for nothing else but to create grief for the tweeter.

But it’s not all bad. Twitter provides an outlet to express one’s point of views and interact with others of a like mind. The give-and-take of tweeting can build self-esteem, confidence, achievement, and a step up the ladder of self-actualization – if Twitter is used for constructive purposes.

Posted by Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on October 27, 2020. You can sign up for our newsletter and learn more about Dr. Mintz’s activities at: Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.