Taking potshots at the powerful is not without cost. Misstatements of fact are subject to laws concerning libel and defamation, and social norms about when and how much to be indignant can boomerang upon the critic.
Last year's Donglegate incident was the perfect storm of controversial topics (sexism in tech, feminism), the Internet, and social media:
at a tech conference called PyCon, the consultant Adria Richards overheard some indelicate puns — involving the terms “dongles” and “forking” — from a couple of male attendees sitting behind her. The jokes made Richards uncomfortable, so in the heat of the moment she decided to register her displeasure by tweeting a picture of the two guys, calling their behavior “not cool.” [snip]If you're going to cast stones through the Internet,
One of the men was recognized by his employer and lost his job. The backlash against his firing then triggered a massive onslaught of online abuse against Richards, who also got fired.
A more courteous age told us that if you can't say anything nice about someone, don't say anything at all. If you're not going to follow that advice, at least think before you tweet. © 2014 Stephen Yuen