Twitter Lists Risks and Worries

twitter lists example image social media gurus

Twitter brings out Lists. Lists is a way to organize Twitter users.  Users can be people you follow or people you don’t. Lists can be public or private. List names can be just about anything, as spaces become dashes, and the words just string together.

Lists makes Twitter users curators.  A list is like a gallery of people you’ve grouped together, either for private use, or to share in public, that have a common theme. Themes can be as simple as being in the list. Lists I’ve formed include the example above, social media gurus, but could be based on location, profession, or expertise.  Heck, you could make a list of ‘beautiful’ or ‘ugly’ people. Hopefully you don’t and if you do, you make it private.

The last example points out just one potential problem with lists, Negative Labeling. Negative Labeling occurs even involuntarily when you group folks as Hillbillies, Hoes, or whatever. You can’t assume no one will see that list.

Negative labeling can also cross the line into the illegal.  It’s borderline, in my opinion, to put together a list of politicians you believe are taking bribes. Likewise a list of neighbors you suspect of cheating on their wives might not be prudent.

Another problem with lists is Outing. Outing commonly refers to outing a secret, and most often is used to refer to gays. Your list of gay friends, the one you make public, may unintentionally out someone to family, friends, or coworkers. Yeah, no big deal to you maybe, but that might cost someone a relationship.

Outing can also be a problem with regard to location. At least a few of my contacts don’t publish a location on their Twitter profile because they are avoiding someone.  It could be an ex-boyfriend, an estranged family member or they could be very private.  Location outing them as being in a certain neighborhood may cause no end of problems.

There are many other ways of Outing or Negative Labeling someone besides the examples I’ve given. Likely folks are already constructing lists such as these.

My lists are focused on location, skills, and other groupings, such as my Master Mind group.  Locations I’ve included are St. Louis, Chicago, DC and more.  Ultimately I see myself adding lists of fellow game players, such as XBox Live folks, or lists of origami enthusiasts.

What will you do with your lists? Will you be responsible? Childish? Or do you even agree it makes a difference?

Whose in your list?


  1. [...] Let’s look at an Internet example along Twitter lists is going to be a fun feature, but right now it’s not opt anything. If you’re added to a list, or add someone to a list, that’s just the way it is. This will be a problem. [...]