Gina Davidson: How to put the twit in Twitter

Richard Ladd lost his job over the rant. Picture: comp
Richard Ladd lost his job over the rant. Picture: comp
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TWITTER is not a safe place if you are, as Winnie the Pooh might put it, of very little brain.

The social media service in which opinions on every subject you can think of – and then some – is fast-paced, diverse and very, very public. Indeed, its public nature is why Sally Bercow had to pay undisclosed damages to Lord McAlpine for defamation and why even those who hide behind anonymous names are eventually hunted down by police if they use Twitter to abuse, incite hatred and threaten violence against others.

You would think then that someone who works for a legal firm – albeit in the property department – would be aware that a tweet is not just for a moment, but for life.

However, so confident in his opinions and place in the world was Richard Ladd, an Edinburgh property sales and marketing consultant, that last weekend he apparently tweeted appalling anti-Semitic abuse at Israeli footballer Yossi Benayoun.

Benayoun was in the midst of a heated Twitter debate about Gaza with another footballer, Joey Barton, when someone using Ladd’s account stepped in to say “Shut up you ugly Jewish c***. If only Hitler was still around to sort you out.”

There was, sadly, more and it wasn’t long before – thanks to Google – Ladd’s employers were discovered by those horrified at what he was saying and his tweets were forwarded to them. He was ultimately sacked.

There are many perils to using Twitter. The more risqué and outrageous a remark, the more “retweets” or “favourites” it might get, encouraging many to say wilder and riskier things in a desperate search for affirmation and popularity – even if they don’t necessarily mean them. Nuance is a difficult thing to gauge in just 140 characters.

Perhaps Ladd was drunk when he pressed the tweet button. Perhaps he thought it was bitingly funny, a bit of banter from the terraces but which, written down and published for the world to read, is very, very different. Who knows? It really doesn’t matter what he thought, because as his former boss, Neil Morgan, at McEwan Fraser Legal said: “No right-thinking person would ever condone this vile, abhorrent language.”

There’s something about Twitter, its live-in-the-moment, say-something-before-you’ve-missed-the-boat pace as well as its distance from those you don’t know and will never meet but perhaps wish to impress, which seems to make people feel enabled to write things they would never say to someone’s face.

It’s also those things which have made the independence referendum debate – for some – a cauldron of bile, bitching and savage attacks from extremes on either side.

But it can also be a force for good, a place where ideas and information can be exchanged, minds opened to new and interesting information as people are pointed to websites and stories which otherwise might never have crossed their paths, a place where campaigns can really find a groundswell.

Quite where Ladd goes from here in his estate agency career who knows, because these days savvy employers will check people’s online presence before offering jobs. Is he anti-Semitic and a racist? He can deny it to all future employers until he’s blue in the face – one search for his name on the worldwide web might suggest otherwise.

Show support to a great cause

SHOCKINGLY Easy. Two small words which capture a huge campaign that this paper has launched with the full support of the family of Jamie Skinner, above, the young footballer who died because of an undiagnosed heart condition.

Jamie was only 13 when he collapsed on the pitch at Saughton and, through a series of events which are still being investigated, failed to receive potentially life-saving treatment from a defibrillator stored in the nearby sports centre.

His death is a huge tragedy to his family, yet they are putting their grief aside to campaign not only for defibrillators to be installed in every Lothians sports facility, but for more and better training in their use – because they are shockingly easy to use.

The idea that a healthy, fit child can collapse and die within minutes when they could have been saved is shocking. It’s easy to change that by supporting this campaign. E-mail savealife@edinburghnews.com

Braw idea but it’s just not ‘Brawton’

THERE must have been a great meeting at VisitScotland when it was decided to launch a guide to

Edinburgh pronunciations for tourists during the Festival. What a brilliant idea – never again would a visitor be embarrassed by asking for Cockburn Street rather than “Coburn”, or made to feel a fool by searching for Princess Street rather than Princes.

But let them not clasp this guide too closely in their phonetic, geographical despair. For who knows where they will end up if attempting to reach “Braw-ton” or “Cheen” streets? Maybe the same place where people who think sex is what coal is delivered in reside.

Help ferry be a roaring success

IT is one of the shortest journeys you can make in Edinburgh, but for too long it’s been impossible to traverse the River Almond from Cramond to the Dalmeny Estate – unless you had your own boat.

Thanks to the hard work of the local community, money has already been raised to install a chain ferry by next summer but, of course, much more will be needed.

I wonder if the former ferryman who landed a cool £30,000 on finding the Roman lioness in the sands of Cramond is chipping in?