Lewis Hamilton forced into Twitter U-turn
FOR A professional motorsports star who prides himself on avoiding false starts, it was a humiliating lapse of modern etiquette which quickly sent him into reverse gear.
Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton has been forced into an embarrassing climbdown, after accusing his British teammate of showing him a lack of respect on Twitter.
The 27-year-old, who has incurred the wrath of officials at McLaren for his use of the social microblogging network, condemned Jenson Button for apparently “unfollowing” updates from his account on the site, describing it as a “shame.”
However, after realising Button had not been following him in the first place, Hamilton issued an apology and said he would try to log on more frequently in future to avoid making a similar mistake.
The very public spat – Hamilton’s accusation was relayed to his 1,125,000 followers – highlighted the fraught relationship between the two drivers, and offered further demonstration of Hamilton’s careless use of Twitter.
Social media experts said the regrettable tweet made clear the danger of writing an impulsive update which could theoretically be viewed by anyone in the world, and urged users to “think twice, then think again” before posting a message.
The 2008 F1 world champion used his official feed in the early hours of yesterday morning to hit out at his colleague, just hours after both had competed in the Japanese Grand Prix.
In his first message, Hamilton, who is due to leave McLaren for Mercedes at the end of the year, wrote: “Just noticed @jensonbutton unfollowed, thats a shame. After 3 years as teammates, I thought we respected one another but clearly he doesn’t.”
Moments later, he added: “Funny thing is, we are STILL teammates! All good tho, I plan on giving this team & fans all I got til I cross the finish line in brazil!!!”
It is understood that Hamilton thought Button – the 2009 world champion – had stopped following him after reports claiming as much circulated in the media. After discovering his mistake, he went back on to Twitter and wrote: “My bad, just found out Jenson never followed me. Don’t blame him! Need to be on Twitter more!”
Kate Bussmann, a social media expert and author of A Twitter Year: 365 Days in 140 Characters, said: “People should think twice on Twitter, then think a third time, before writing something. Generally, my rule of thumb is, ‘If your mother wouldn’t want you to say it, don’t say it’.
“It’s so easy to write a tweet that you’re going to regret and that’s why people get into trouble. Remember that it’s public – it’s very easy to forget that when you’re sitting with your iPad on your lap.”
The faux pas marked the final chapter of a tough week for Hamilton. He is to be replaced at McLaren by Mexican Sergio Perez next season, and his move to Mercedes was the talk of the paddock at the Japanese Grand Prix. However, he refused to answer questions about the switch at an FIA press conference.
Hamilton’s Twitter climbdown is not the first time he has made an error of judgment on the social networking site.
At the Belgian Grand Prix he posted a picture of the telemetry from his and Button’s qualifying laps, which the team quickly told him to remove due to the sensitive nature of the data, detailed information about braking and acceleration rates.
While McLaren said the rogue tweet had not caused “much damage,” Button said it should not have happened.
“Just noticed @jensonbutton unfollowed, thats a shame. After 3 years as teammates, I thought we respected one another but clearly he doesn’t.”
“Funny thing is, we are STILL teammates! All good tho, I plan on giving this team & fans all I got til I cross the finish line in brazil!!!”
“The time is always right to do what is right” Martin Luther King Jr .... “Remove yourself from any negativity & be your higher self & love”
“The only person I have to be better than today is the person I was yesterday. So, Past, thanks for all the lessons. To my Future, I’m ready!”
“Congrats to @JensonButton for his 1st pole for the team. I will try to help him score a 1-2 for the team. Still all to play for:)”
“Just walked into what is supposed 2 b my bedroom at the Suzuka circuit hotel but looks more like a kids playroom!!”
According to UK online community Creative Boom, people should follow a few rules so as to attract followers on Twitter – and avoid unwelcome publicity:
• Everyone can see what you tweet, so what you write could have repercussions.
• People may not agree with what you write, but it is best to accept that.
• Passive-aggressive behaviour should not be tolerated.
• It is better to ignore people than to send them rude or sarcastic messages.
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