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Social Media tsar’s criminal use of twitter.

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Sharing is good right? Well not always. As with all parts of life, a huge part of any organisation’s social media strategy is knowing when to shut the hell up.

Labour’s so-called and much lauded social media tsar,  yesterday committed a potentially disastrous gaffe when she tweeted results of postal votes for the upcoming election.

Kerry McCarthy (@kerry4MP) is the twitter evangelist who was responsible for training up Labour politicians in the art of teh interwebs. Oops.

Under the Representation of the People Act it is illegal to reveal details of votes cast before the polling day as it may influence those yet to vote. Avon and Somerset police are now investigating this potentially criminal act.

Other twitter users pretty quickly realised something was amiss and let Ms McCarthy know. Blogger Darren Bridgman was first on the scene.

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After briefly trying to defend her position, and presumably consulting with those who know better, @Kerry4MP deleted the tweets. But as we all know, news travels fast and word had got out. Here was her response to the BBC.

On hearing the results of a random and unscientific sample of postal votes, I posted them on Twitter. It was a thoughtless thing to do, and I very quickly realised that it was not appropriate to put such information in the public domain.

“Quickly realised” but not quick enough. At its heart, this is not a social media error. Kerry McCarthy made a simple mistake. She should have known it was illegal to share that information with the public and not done it. This error could have been made when talking to a journalist or writing a press release but in this case she is not only the source of the information but the editor and publisher. What this incident proves, if more proof be needed, is that in this world of instant communication, you have to be really sure of your message and in control of the information you choose to share.

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