There have been so many of these gaffes in Twitter’s short history that I am still surprised that organizations, or entire countries, are willing to allow a few individuals to permanently damage their reputation and image in the name of ‘democracy’ on social media. VisitSweden, a communications company that promotes the “brand of Sweden, Swedish destinations and experiences,” developed the idea behind Curators of Sweden to enable the official @Sweden twitter handle to be handed over to the people of Sweden. Although it sounds good to be the country with the “world’s most democratic twitter account,” what happens when the individual man or woman on the street takes over and starts praising Hitler or questioning how best to identify Jews.
It’s one thing to want to give a voice to the people, it’s another to let some fringe individuals spout extremely controversial statements from your platform. This week’s curator claims in her bio “… at least I don’t do drugs and prostitution.” Surely, that qualifies you to represent the country and the brand of Sweden. I would think that Sweden would want to highlight the best of its country – focus on all of the amazing culture, history, food and experiences the nation has to offer – rather than provide a megaphone for racist, ignorant commentary.
I actually love the idea of giving the handle over to its citizens – but even the best writers need an editor. These tweets should have been moderated. Some rules should have been put in place regarding comments that could be considered offensive, prejudiced or racist in nature. (What’s next? Posting pornographic twit-pics from this handle?) A simple Social Media Usage Policy and a little moderation could have turned this campaign into a resounding success instead of what will surely become a notable disaster. It’s a shame that a little more forethought and caution could have saved this campaign (maybe it still will) before it brings down the reputation and brand of Sweden in the name of social media democracy.