Murdoch and Bloomberg in Boston in August 2012 (Boston Globe via Getty Images)
At a news conference on Monday afternoon in Brooklyn, the New York City mayor went on an extended riff about the dangers of social media, even confessing at one point that he advised News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch to stop using Twitter.
“I’ve told your boss, I think he should stop twittering,” Bloomberg told a reporter for the New York Post, which is owned by Murdoch.
Asked later if he was actually referring to Murdoch, Bloomberg smiled and replied, “I don’t know who that would be.”
Bloomberg was responding to questions about a series of city employees who have been suspended or forced to resign after the media discovered racist rants they had posted on Twitter. The mayor said he had looked into the idea of putting limits on how city employees use social media—especially on city-owned computers—but admitted there were First Amendment issues about such a crackdown.
But then, Bloomberg proceeded to unload on users of sites like Twitter and Facebook, admitting that he’s dumbfounded about how some people don’t seem to realize their posts could come under public scrutiny and come back to haunt them.
"No. 1, I don't understand why people don't understand that anything you write, anything you send out, is going to be retweeted, re-Facebooked, re-this, re-that," Bloomberg declared, clearly exasperated. "You should write down, No. 1, only things you believe, and No. 2, then think about how it would look if somebody else sees it. There are just a lot of young kids who are doing things on their Twitter account, their Facebook account that later on is going to come back and bite them. I know you want to share information, and it’s nice to be able to express yourself, but you have to have the maturity to understand (what you’re doing).”
Bloomberg said it was difficult to comprehend how some adults don’t understand that “someday, somebody is going to take a look at what they do.”
“It’s very addictive. It’s easy. You hit a button, and nobody thinks that the rest of the world is looking at them,” Bloomberg continued.
Another problem, Bloomberg added, was Twitter messages could be taken “out of context.”
“It’s dangerous,” the mayor declared. “One hundred and 40 odd characters doesn’t give you a chance to explain what you really mean. It’s just a phrase that can be taken out of context. … Anything you say in 140 characters is going to be taken out of context. It’s just not a good forum. You can’t talk about a complex subject or a controversial subject in a sound bite.”
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