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Home » How One Tweet Can Ruin Your Life by Jon Ronson at TED (Full Transcript)

How One Tweet Can Ruin Your Life by Jon Ronson at TED (Full Transcript)

Jon Ronson

Full text of Jon Ronson, writer and documentary filmmaker, on How One Tweet Can Ruin Your Life at TED Talks conference. 

Listen to the MP3 Audio here: MP3 – How One Tweet Can Ruin Your Life by Jon Ronson at TED Talks


In the early days of Twitter, it was like a place of radical de-shaming. People would admit shameful secrets about themselves, and other people would say, “Oh my God, I’m exactly the same.”

Voiceless people realized that they had a voice, and it was powerful and eloquent. If a newspaper ran some racist or homophobic column, we realized we could do something about it. We could get them. We could hit them with a weapon that we understood but they didn’t — a social media shaming. Advertisers would withdraw their advertising. When powerful people misused their privilege, we were going to get them. This was like the democratization of justice. Hierarchies were being leveled out. We were going to do things better.

Soon after that, a disgraced pop science writer called Jonah Lehrer — he’d been caught plagiarizing and faking quotes, and he was drenched in shame and regret, he told me. And he had the opportunity to publicly apologize at a foundation lunch. This was going to be the most important speech of his life. Maybe it would win him some salvation. He knew before he arrived that the foundation was going to be live-streaming his event, but what he didn’t know until he turned up, was that they’d erected a giant screen Twitter feed right next to his head. Another one in a monitor screen in his eye line.

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