Chatham House rules and Twitter

I was at a meeting recently where someone from Chatham House was present.

I was tempted to say ‘Chatham House rules’ in the manner of ‘I’m sorry I haven’t a clue’ and shouting ‘Mornington Crescent’.

Which leads on to my lesson for today.

As you probably know I monitor Twitter every day for mentions on the NAO. I noticed yesterday a mention of a colleague and what they were purported to have had said.

I was not aware that they were at a conference so I made a screenshot of the comments and sent them to the relevant person for their information.

The response was ‘oh I thought it was a private conversation’ but no harm done – or similar words.

It is easy to forget these days that someone can be easily filming a conversation on a phone or tweeting.

It is perfectly legitimate to say at an event that the whole thing is not for Twitter – though this can be seen as overkill and is not very transparent or engaging which hopefully the NAO wants to be.

More typically if you are in a workshop or seminar and you want to mention something slightly critical or controversial you can comfortably say ‘please do not tweet this’. I have done it myself and will do it again.

Generally people understand what this means and do not have a problem. If they do not understand the group present will probably correct them if they transgress.

Of course the best route is not to mention anything you might regret being ‘re-published’ in any format. It’s the old ‘common sense’ rule.



Filed under Twitter

2 responses to “Chatham House rules and Twitter

  1. Is there scope for a ‘Chatham House-lite’, around ‘not tweeting in a way likely to embarrass the speaker’? Teacamp/Govcamp-style events need people to talk about their experiences, and not all those experiences will have been good. I’d hate to have to self-censor all the bad bits out, for fear of people copying them verbatim, because hopefully there are lessons to be learned that have more value than a cheap laugh on twitter…

    • Nick M Halliday

      Yes this a great point. It is soooo tempting to ‘go negative’ but how does that help anyone. Perhaps we should say that we need to ‘Tweet the tweet’ and do the right thing?

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