Friday 2 September 2016

Brian Coleman - An apology and a cautionary note about quoting tweets

I today learned a very unfortunate feature of Twitter. If you use the 'quote' feature when performing a retweet, any responses which were posted in response to that tweet are also displayed. If you have added a comment using quote, this can completely change the context of what you are saying.

On Wednesday, Brian Coleman, ex Barnet Councillor had posted a tweet suggesting that The Fascist dictatorship of Franco should return to Spain.

On seeing a tweet in the Independent promoting British Airways holidays to Iran, it occurred to me that if Mr Coleman is keen on Fascist dictatorships, maybe he'd like A holiday in Iran, which is one such place.

I posted a tweet suggesting that perhaps Barnet residents may like to sponsor him a One way ticket. I took this to be a humourous pop at someone I have a long adversarial history with. Mr Coleman has regularly abused me using the fact I have Prostate cancer as his favoured weapon.

I am an adult so I take the view that if I dish it out, I have to take it and so should Mr Coleman. I was somewhat surprised to see Mr Coleman claim on Twitter that I was directing homophobic abuse at him. I could see nothing in my tweet that suggested this. I even read the story in the Independent again to see if I missed something. I couldn't see any such thing, so dismissed Mr Colemans claim out of hand. Mr Coleman sometimes overreacts, so I assumed this was again the case.

Today I was pondering why Colemam, who I believe knows I am not at all homophobic should take such a stance. I thought I'd have another look and see why he was clearly so riled.

I revisited the @Independent tweet and found that two responses had been left to it. Had someone clicked through, my tweet could conceivably be taken to imply I was  wishing grevious harm to befall Coleman on the grounds of his sexuality. These tweets were left by a tweeter I do not follow and was not aware of. I realised Mr Coleman had not been unreasonable to draw such a conclusion based on what was displayed.

Had I known what might be displayed, I would never have left a message, that was innocuous in the context of the original tweet.

As such I have deleted my tweet and am also apologising to Mr Coleman for any unintentional distress caused. I find homophobic abuse abhorrent and for all my many disagreements with Mr Coleman wish him no personal harm. I urge every Twitter user to be extremely cautious when using the quote facility as there is clearly the possibility that you may appear to be saying something or quoting something you would find abhorrent.

I sincerely hope Mr Coleman accepts my apology for what was genuinely not an attack on his sexuality. Had I have known that the follow up tweets could be displayed in such way, there is no way I would have used the quote facility. Be warned if you are a Twitter user, as this can have dire consequences. I feel very upset to think how this appeared to Mr Coleman and accept fully that based on what he saw, his response was justified. I am equally upset that I didn't see what upset him on my timeline. I think Twitter should give full visibility of what is being displayed before posting so such unfortunate things aren't possible.

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